Reading the protest signs from last month’s Women’s March was inspirational, and occasionally entertaining. One sign in particular caught my attention: “Pendejo is Spanish for Stable Genius,” which went viral. It made me smile, and it got me thinking about the origins of the word.
Women have been rightfully calling out pendejos for a while now. One of my earlier memories was when my mother shouted this insult to a man, who almost hit us with his car. I prayed the man didn’t get out of his car to escalate the situation because I felt the insult was so severe. I was seven years old and scared, not of my mother, but for her. Thankfully the man kept driving, perhaps he was too embarrassed to stick around.
As for pendejo’s development, I found out it stems from the latin pertiniculus or pecten, which means “pubic hair.” How did pubic hair come to mean dumbass? I dug deeper into the internets because our favorite insult undoubtedly merits deep scholarly research. My typing lead me to a college paper on the subject.
It appears pendejo was used in 16th century Spain to refer to pubescent teens who thought of themselves as grown ups. A century later it also appeared to mean coward. It wasn’t until the 1917 publication of the Dictionary of the Spanish Language (Diccionario de la lengua española) where its definition in Latin America shifted to stupid, dumb:
“It (dictionary) references the etymology definition, then that of coward, and finally the one used in the Americas (Mexico, Colombia, Chile): dumb man, stupid.”
Thankfully the current administration can make use of all three historical definitions of pendejo: There’s the pubescent and immature time Trump tweeted insults about Mika Brzezinski, the various times he’s been called a coward — being a draft dodger and all — and, having been involved in various businesses only to bankrupt them, well that certainly makes him a classic, modern-day pendejo.
To the brave woman who held up her pendejo sign at the Women’s March, thank you. I dedicate this post to you.
Tizoc Schwartz co-wrote a short film on the word ‘Chingar’ and has written other stuff you’ve never heard of. He’s a carb enthusiast, and dislikes social media.
María Rubio was so good as Catalina Creel, an iconic telenovela villain, the role ruined her career
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:
Traumatic advice from aunt Rosa: “Don’t torture your Care Bear, Mijo. Or else.”
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.