Friday, April 27, 2007

The story below about Mr. Martinez, the drunk truck driver, exemplifies several words that are important if one wants to understand the Spanish character, especially in its working-class version.

Machismo: Many Spanish men just naturally assume that there is a masculine code they must live up to. Among other things, men should be able to handle a couple of wimpy copas of brandy before work in the morning.

Cojones: What every macho Spaniard has a big brass pair of. "Porque me sale de los cojones": Just because I feel like it.

Chulería: A chulo just naturally assumes that he can do anything he wants and the hell with everybody else.

Marica: Homosexual, faggot. Men who are not sufficiently macho or chulo are always at risk of being called maricas.

Bajarse del burro: Literally, "to get down off your donkey." Something like "climb down" in English. To admit you were wrong. No macho, chulo Spaniard ever gets down off his burro.

Fantasma: Literally, "ghost." A fantasma is a person who will claim that obviously false things are true in order to back up his machismo.

Chapucería: A chapuza is a half-ass job, done both incompetently and carelessly. Spaniards are not lazy. Many of them are chapuceros, though.

Cachondeo: Ridiculous absurdity. The idea that a lawyer can plead his client not guilty of drunk driving on the grounds he is an alcoholic, for example.

"Vuelve usted mañana": Literally, "Come back tomorrow." You hear this both from bureaucrats and the private sector. Example: Letting a guy rack up six drunk driving arrests before you get around to taking him to court.

Note: One must keep in mind that different countries have different national mottoes, such as "Vive la France," "Deutschland über Alles," or "Rule Britannia." Spain's national motto is "We Laugh at Death."

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