Ni Mentirosa, Ni Loca
My kids have a multicolored plush spider that, if you press one of its dangly dance-shoed legs, plays the Lambada. A Spanish-speaking friend of my mother’s got it for our older daughter. I remember how, when I unwrapped it and showed it to her, I became mas emocionada than she was at the originality and significance of the gift.
When I moved to the US (and me imagino to some extent still), people knew the Lambada most commonly by its nickname of “the forbidden dance.” In Madrid, I remember the Lambada being danced at a 2nd grade birthday party. When I would mention this here, my friends thought I was scandalous and no one believed me.
Also, no one believed me when I’d reveal that, at recess in my Catholic grade school in Spain, the nuns sold beer. Or when I’d mention that in Spain, a rollercoaster is known as a montaña rusa. This chain of events: remembering, sharing, and disbelief has happened un montonazo de veces since moving here.
And after a while, it has the effect of making my personal past sometimes seem like a dream; I think I was there, that things happened one particular way, but on the opposite side of the world, I can no longer say for sure.
But a veces I’m caught by surprise by an artifact from my childhood: a toy, a photograph, a shared memory, and it makes my breath catch in asombro that it really happened the way I remember it, that I didn’t imagine it after all. Like this spider serving as proof that in my other culture, the Lambada can be a fun song for children. Proof that I’m ni una mentirosa, ni una loca.
And this proof, it’s addictive. It’s lead me back to some of my favorite books, especially this one, and the Antoñita la fantástica series, by Borita Casas. And thanks to the marvel of YouTube, I’ve been able to enjoy some favorite TV series from my infancia: ”Oliver y Benji,” “Juana y Sergio,” “Los Tres Mosqueperros”, “Sherlock Holmes,” and ”Marco“. (Follow the links for the opening songs, you know you can’t resist the timesuck.) Each search is worth so much; cada confirmacion de memoria no falla en restorar e inspirarme.
Y hacerme sonreir, tambien, at the differences inherent sometimes between eras (oh, glory of the late 70s/80s!…can you imagine getting away with a cartoon like Marco now?) and cultures. Okay, so we have Dora now, but if you have little bilinguitos-in-training at home, I dare you to resist teaching them the Mosqueperros song.
* this piece first appeared in a different version, under a different title on Literary Mama
** photo by Julianrod