Thursday, 25 September 2008


Reading Nelson Rodrigues is a very fine way to get inside the Brazilian heart and mind, even if the epoch he was writing about is now a distant one. Irrational jealousy stirs and boils through the lines, weary reserves of matrimonial patience are constantly tested. Married men of a certain age fall in love with, and frequently marry, gauche teenagers. The gauche teenagers fall in love with the men of a certain age without a hint of revulsion. Often one or the other are then gleefully abandoned by their new paramour. Pregnant partners are cast aside for shinier baubles on a regular basis. In O Professor Bonito a teenage student pushes the supposed wife of the master with whom she has become obsessed under a truck. The supposed wife is with child. Only the woman pushed under the truck is not the wife but an innocent bystander. In A Crianca, a 40 year old doctor, married father of two, falls for a seventeen year old patient. Her family discovers and she is sent overseas. He abandons his wife and family and follows her to Canada. The girl becomes pregnant. The man loses interest and returns to Brazil. The girl gives birth and the child is secretly adopted by an older friend. And in Retrato De Marido, or Portrait of A Husband, Nelson Rodrigues uses perhaps the best word ever in Portuguese, balzaquiana, which means a woman of over thirty, and is inspired by Honore De Balzac’s book of similar (-ish) name (and thanks to The (now-ex) Portuguese Teacher for explaining all this, and also for the photograph).

Anyway, reading Nelson Rodrigues, and now that there may or not be A New Potential Light of My Life (Number 456), I feel the urge to jot a few notes on romance and affairs of the heart, as such things tend to truckle their way along in Brazil.

Life And How To Live It:

I’ve got a lot of male friends, The Potential New Light Of My Life (Number 456) tells me. But it’s ok. I know what my relationship is with them, and they know what their relationship is with me. And if they get any funny ideas, I’ll soon put them straight.

The Potential New Light Of My Life (Number 456) and I share a tender moment.

Thing is, says The Potential New Light Of My Life (Number 456), there’s no way in hell I’d let any boyfriend of mine go out alone with a female friend. The Potential New Light Of My Life (Number456) bites her lip pensively. It is an endearing gesture. Feelings buzz like fruit flies within. In fact, I don’ t think I’d let any boyfriend of mine have any female friends. Men are dogs, don’t you think?

I cast my mind back to the tender moment, which seems a long time ago now.

Revenge A Dish Best Served Cold:

There was a time when the existence of The Ex-Girlfriend’s New Boyfriend caused not a little gnashing of teeth in a place not too far from here. But things changed soon enough and it was officially declared that The Ex-Girlfriend’s New Boyfriend was a fine fellow indeed. And it only seemed a little odd that The Ex-Girlfriend never saw The New Boyfriend on Saturday nights, for example, or on Sundays. And that she was never introduced to The New Boyfriend’s family. Mere details, it was thought all round. And now that the truth is out in the open, the only question remains is – is four months a long time for The Ex-Girlfriend’s New Boyfriend not to have mentioned that he’s married?

The Heavyweight Champion Of The World:

Of course this is all small fry when compared to the Babe Ruth of comic (or not so comic) Brazilian Romeos And Juliets. That one, I regret to say, I merely read about in the newspaper, for what a treat (bloody murder aside) it would have been to have known the individuals personally! A Fine Upstanding Gentleman of Belo Horizonte became most upset to find out that his recently departed former life partner had made herself a special new friend. So upset, it turns out, that he tracked the slippery pair to a dusty side road outside the city and gunned them down like puppy dogs in the street. When the police got to the scene they found our hero, head in hands, perhaps thinking to himself that if he’d worn his blue t-shirt that day and not his white t-shirt then things might have turned out very differently. By his side was his admirably loyal eighteen year old daughter. What’s your story, the police asked the daughter. I saw him with his gun, she said, and I came to try and stop him. Surveying the bloody scene, the thought well you didn’t do a very good job, did you, must have passed through the minds of the members of Brazil’s Finest on hand. Thing is, as the thing often is, that’s not the half of it. One eager beaver from the Policia Militar didn’t buy this shaky story, and back at the station pressed the issue a little further. Come on, he said, what really happened? And the girl cracked. Ok, she sobbed. I put him up to it. I told my father everything, what he was up to, where they would be. We planned it all together! Why, in the name of God, why, asked the peeler. Because, the answer came, the bastard my dad shot used to be with me, before he dumped me and started sleeping with my mother.

Which is not a line that many people, probably, have much call to use during their lifetimes.

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