Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Un Piropo Anyone?

So I learned that here in Argentina they have a specific word for the things men to say to women they pass in the street. I'm not talking just catcalls here, but much nicer kinds of things. Like "How advanced technology has become when flowers can walk!" or "What has happened in heaven that such angels have fallen to earth?" While not many welcome wolf whistles and rude comments, what woman doesn't appreciate compliments?

One man was famous in Cordoba for standing on a busy street corner and complimenting every woman who walked by. Dressed in a top hat and tails, flowers tucked into his lapel, he was quite elegant. His real name was Fernando Albiero Bertapelle but everyone called him Jardín Florido. Although he died in 1963, his name lives on in folklore (and on Wikipedia).

He developed piropos into an art form, and others have followed in his footsteps. My co-worker remembers just a few years ago after she learned to drive and was slowly making her way through heavy traffic in the center of downtown Carlos Paz. Her window was rolled down and as she waited at a corner for the light to change, she was startled when an elderly, dapper gentleman in a suit stepped to the side of her van and said, "I knew that God sent angels to earth, but I did not know that they drove!" Made her day! :-)

It was such a kick to do my homework yesterday -- translating the Wikipedia entry on Fernando Bertapelle -- and then talk with my Spanish teacher this morning about well-known characters from places I've lived. I'm not sure if he's still alive, but there was a mentally impaired man in Jonesville who absolutely LOVED going to all the ballgames at the high school and cheering for "his" team. And he sometimes traveled with them to away games, serving as an unofficial mascot. Didn't matter to him whether they won or not, he just enjoyed the excitement of the game and was convinced that "his" team was the best no matter what. His unbridled enthusiasm endeared him to all.

Totally switching subjects...we set up our Christmas tree last evening. I used to have five plastic bins of Christmas decorations but gave away most of it before we came. So it didn't take long to unpack my one lonely bin and take a few more things from another box. It's looking a little sparse at this point but I'm trying to think of things I can get locally to make it more festive. I plan to post pictures on December 15th as part of BooMama's Christmas Tour of Homes.

The month-long Christmas music extravaganza has also begun. Currently I'm listening to Manheim Steamroller's Fresh Aire Christmas.

While decorating last night we listened to The Nutcracker Ballet. I finished the tree, sat down and just cried. I do pretty well most of the time but sometimes I miss my kids so much it's overwhelming. So I stop and cry, and then get back up and get busy again. I know there are many families -- and I think particularly of those in the military -- who are missing their loved ones this year, too. You do what you gotta do. And thank the Lord for internet and the ability to stay in touch despite the distance.


Sharon said...

Piropos. I remember them well, I feel however they weren't as couth further south, because my memories are most uncomfortable...
"Sacate la chaquetita para verte la figurita"
(Have fun translating!)

Anonymous said...

Yeah. I can relate to missing family this time of year!
I love these compliments! The Moroccan men could learn from this...they tend to rude insulting comments, which go right over my head as I don't speak Arabic ;)

rita said...

You've got it! You understand the piropo-culture! True, not all who give them are as cultured as Jardin Florido--great story! Here's another for ya': "Tantas curvas y yo sin frenos."
I have to confess, however, that at my age piropos have a tendency to "make my day."

Ma Hoyt said...

Ok, now take that one..."I knew that God sent angels to earth, but I did not know that they drove!"...and change the last word to 'blogged.'

Lhoyt said...

Though Mary was in Argentina for 12years, you're way ahead of her in the "modismos". I believe piropos are a somewhat less cultured in the big city, also, so I never chose to make her any the wiser.

Sure enjoy your description of driving with an old map. I had rather drive in B.A. than in the city of Córdoba, because it makes more logical sense, even though it is faster and rougher driving. I never did enjoy "la bajada del Pucará".