Friday, October 10, 2008

He forgot his raisins and other Chilean mysteries

Yesterday in my mock yoga (is that moga?) class, the profe didn't finish the balance portion, because we ran out of music. Everyone started joking around with him (except me, executing a perfect (to my mind) left-footed aeroplano so I wouldn't feel all chueca (wonky, crooked) later in the day. The joke of the minute had to do with him forgetting to eat his raisins that morning.

It seems that raisins are a memory aid here in Chile, which reminds me of nothing more than a beloved book of Isaac Bashevis Singer tales that I had while I was young, in which one story talked about how eating carp tails would make you smarter. Which, given my tremendous aversion to gefilte fish makes me wonder how I even manage to function. Ah, another tangent.

The point here is that there are so many expressions that if you don't know what they mean, or don't follow the story closely and fill the gap on your own, will leave you to wonder exactly what is going on.

For example, a friend was telling me a story about two male friends of hers, both interested in the same woman. Person A was chatting her up, and the woman seemed interested. When Person A got up to go to the bathroom, person B jumped in and started sawing the floor! Sawing the floor, I tell you! (serruchando el piso)

While Isaac Baschevis Singer is silent on floor-sawing, another great thinker of our times is not. I'm quite certain that there's a Woody Woodpecker (El Pájaro Loco) cartoon in which one animated character starts sawing a circle around the chair that another one is in, effectively removing him from the picture.

I get this. I figured out that raisins are a Chilean memory aid, and that sawing the floor means taking someone out of the picture. But can someone please explain to me why potato (papa) is another word for a hole in your sock? And why a turkey's age (la edad del pavo) means the awkard stage kids go through in and around puberty? There are so many, many more. But I've got to stop the madness. Unless this has left you with the taste of little (gusto a poco- leaving you wanting more).


Lillian said...

Why is raisin a memory aid? Cause it's wrinkly like the brain?

Layfan said...

Hahaha! Notable!
Una persona que escucha esas cosas desde siempre no se lo cuestiona demasiado, pero si uno piensa en esos dichos criollos, en realidad son bastante raros...

Pam said...

I love love love these odd little localisms. I don't think twice about it any more but I remember when I first learned that "It's sausage to me" means "I don't care" to Austrians. Makes no sense at all, given how serious those people are about their sausage.

Manzanilloblogger said...

Perhaps... and I'm just spitballing here... (another great expression) the papas hole in your sock is because your toes look like little potatoes sticking out. I used to work as a waiter/cook in Brooklyn, and little potatoes kinda look like toes. :)

And the turkey could relate to the voice cracking gobbling noise many whippersnappers (there I go again) seem to get in adolescence.

Just a guess. They've got some crazy expressions here too.

Anonymous said...

It's all Chilean to me!