In Spanish “rusio” means “Russian”. “Rubio” means “blond”. Carman, my most blond child (I know, I know, he’s not a child anymore! sniff.) is called both on the streets in Santiago.
Being blond is a bit unusual here. And Chileans, especially the working class, are comfortable addressing people they don’t know. They’ll mumble something about “rubio” under their breath as he rides past on his bike. The guy at the bike store will ask, “¿QuÃ© buscando, rubio?” (What do you need, blondie?) They call him blondie with a straight face. It’s neither good, or bad, it’s just what he is – blond.
What surprised me is that folks on the street will also call him “Rusio” (Russian). I feared this was a jab, an insult, an “Oh dear, you need to watch your back.” But it’s not that way at all. For whatever reason, here in Chile, the two words (rubio and rusio) can have the same meaning: blondie.
Now, if you’re a woman or a young child, you’ll also be called “mi amor” (whether on not you’re blond.) I can go to La Vega, and be claimed as the “love” of 5 different men, usually at the completion of a vegetable transaction. I say “thank you,” and they say, “Thanks to you, my love.” It’s quite typical and nothing to be flattered or offended by. Young children are addressed in this way too.
If you’re a woman, you’ll likely be called “reina” (queen) too. No need to get a big head, because they’re going to call every 5th woman they see “reina.” It’s like calling out “ma’am.” This usually happens when someone is trying to get my attention: “Reina! Zapallo, repollo, cebolla…” (Queen! Pumpkin, cabbage, onion…)
It’s like being in a small, southern town and having the waitress call you “honey”, and the cashier at the diner call you “sugar”. It seems though, that these “sweet” words are mostly spoken by women in the US. Whereas in Chile, the men get in on the sweet talk.