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Colonialism or just good-natured? We might be too polite for our own good

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Once, while on an Iberia flight from New York to Madrid, I asked a stewardess for a vegetarian option. She was only handing out pollo or carne meals [chicken or meat]. The woman queried: “did you request a vegetarian meal when you purchased your ticket?” “No. I assumed you kept a few vegetarian meals on hand,” I replied. Without wasting another explanation on me, she prodded one last time: “so pollo or carne?”

I was shocked, but loved her brevity. A Latin America an attendant would have kindly explained my mistake, and then seen about a reaching a compromise. The Spanish azafata had no time for that, and neither did other Spaniards during the rest of the trip. In cafes, restaurants, and shops, the service was succinct, and I liked it.

The average Latin American will surely find a Spanish service person too dry, impersonal, and possibly rude. That’s because, for the most part, we’re excessively saccharine.

While visiting Puerto Rico, my girlfriend and I went by a pharmacy’s drive thru window to pick up a prescription. Servicarros, to use the local parlance, are some of the most impersonal contraptions of the service industry. Whether ordering a burger or making a deposit, the automated process makes the interaction entirely mechanical, remote, and detached. When the attendant finally handed my girlfriend a small bag of pills, she went all out with her adieu: “Thank you, my love. You and your man have a blessed, wonderful day.”

It was a beautiful, elegant, and stylish way to say goodbye.

But there’s a drawback to being overly polite. In Mexico we use the maligned mande, which loosely translates to “order” or “command away.” Many people discourage the use of the expression because it perpetuates colonialism, while others swear that’s not the case.

Either way, the word highlights how many people in Latin American have been conditioned to treat everyone with kid gloves. In overtly polite societies, disappointing a stranger causes great anxiety. I’ve been given fictitious directions too many times because feigning knowledge apparently feels less disappointing than admitting ignorance.

Nice manners are pleasant, but brutal honestly is practical.


 

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María Rubio was so good as Catalina Creel, an iconic telenovela villain, the role ruined her career

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According to sources on Twitter, and also TvNotas, the holy bible of Mexican gossip, María Rubio, the legendary actress best known for her role as Catalina Creel de Larios in Cuna de lobos, has passed away. She was 83 years old.

Thanks to her role as Soraya Montenegro in María la del Barrio, Itati Cantoral has been dominating the internet with an insane amount of memes, gifs, and even a House of Cards promo special. Itati blew up in the mid ’90s, when older millennials were still teens, and she’s that generation’s go-to character when it comes to Mexican telenovela villains.

Yes, Cantoral was great as Soraya, but the top dog in the telenovela villain game was — and has always been — María Rubio. The Tijuana-born actress was so good in Cuna de lobos that, according to an interview she did with Cristina Saralegui, the role ruined her career:

“[Catalina Creel] was a difficult, beloved character. I enjoyed playing her, but she also hurt me a lot. People completely forgot about María Rubio and now it seems that, after 40 years of being an actress, I’ve only done Catalina Creel.”

Catalina, a murderous matriarch, was known for having some of the best one-liners in telenovela history. But in the same interview with Saralegui, which was filmed over 20 years ago, María proved to be just as cunning and smart as her infamous character, but also incredibly funny:

“[Although I played a villain], I’ve received nothing but compliments, love, and admiration. Never aggression. I think viewers do attack the bad ones — bad actresses, that is.”

If you understand Spanish, check out the hilarious interview below. Watch María viciously own everyone in a panel of full of young telenovela villains:

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Traumatic advice from aunt Rosa: “Don’t torture your Care Bear, Mijo. Or else.”

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I was 6 years old when I yelled at Tugs, my Care Bear. I put him in time-out for not agreeing to the rules of an imaginary game I had just created.

I built a little time-out fortress for him to stay in while I played with my other toys. Coincidentally my tía Rosa was visiting that day. I urged her to see all my toys when she came into the house. I also explained to her that Tugs was in time-out, to which she replied in shock, “Mijo, mira, You have to be nice to your toys.”

I replied, “Tía, I am nice to my toys, but I’m teaching him a lesson.”

She contested nervously, “No, Mijo, you have to be nice to your toys or they might not be nice to you.”

I wasn’t following her logic.

Mijo, if you’re not nice to your toys, then at night time they might wake up and crawl into your bed to cut your toes with tiny razors,” she said slowly while staring at my imprisoned Care Bear.

“What?!” I whispered to her while looking at Tugs from the corner of my eye.

“Yes, your toys might do very bad things to you if you don’t treat them good.”

I stared at her in disbelief.

She stood up and walked towards the doorway.

Mijo, I brought you some tortillas. Come in the kitchen and let’s warm them up,” Rosa said casually.

From then on, Tugs sat on a tufted pillow on my dresser while I slept in velcro shoes for the next year. Growing up in my Mexican-American family meant that everything was possibly alive and watching you.


Felix III – Journeys the cosmos via Holy Hands Vol. 2. Rents a one-bedroom on Neptune. IG: @Futurefelix / Twitter: @thefuturefelix


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