Monday, August 3, 2009

1950 comes to Caracas

I just read a book that I (wishfully) thought would be a constructive critique of cuaimas, but is actually a full blown celebration of the cuaima.

If, in 300 years, an alien comes to Venezuela and reads this book, it will think that the life of a woman passes no further than her house, her child’s school, and her church; and that her self worth depends entirely on making her children lunch and ironing her husband’s shirts. The author forgets to feed herself breakfast while making elaborate meals for her husband and children, labels her plastic surgeon a “magical god,” and seeks guidance from a priest who informs her that the habits of her egoistic and alcoholic husband are something for which she needs to “be stronger.” And that the "strong" friends she really needs are the one that also cry when she goes to them with repeated sob stories about her husband’s behavior.

The narrator’s “breakthrough” moment is when she realizes that she doesn’t need to “clean what is already clean” (como se le occure hacer eso??); and that she can, in a motion of self discovery, take a walk outside with her friend, go window shopping at the mall, or go to the gym to pursue a “beauty routine.” Amazingly, even if she does not clean the house that day and pursues these “independent activities,” the house will still probably be as clean as it was yesterday--so worry not.

Throughout the book I found myself hoping for a sign that it was all a farce; that the author understood the nature of her codependent existence and wrote all that drivel as a form of mockery, or at least as the "what not to do" section of a corny advice column, or that the book was a reprinted version of the 1950 edition, but no.

I recently had a discussion with gringas and venezolanas about dating/ gender stereotypes here. Highlights:

-One friend was asked by an older woman, on three separate occasions, if her boyfriend was indeed single and not married to someone else.

-After getting a haircut, one friend was complimented that if her boyfriend was married, he would leave now indeed leave his wife for her. Congratulations.

-One friend's mother regularly tells her that if she does not stay pretty and cuidar a su novio, then he will unquestionably leave her.

But alas, things are the way they are, and no point in getting pissed off about them. Off to bed.


Gina said...

uf! talk about your poners!

sister, how do i love thee?
let me count the ways.

Please come back. no hay cuiamas por aca.

Rebuilding my sand castles said...

what is he name of this book you read?

Rebuilding my sand castles said...

what is he name of this book you read?