This afternoon, while writing a comment on Monica’s blog, I underwent a brain zap.
You know, when blood rushes to your head, you start to feel lightheaded, and zap!
You go back in time.
It happened rather suddenly.
One minute I was telling Monica how I also wanted to be a Girl Scout and suddenly, my brain zap revealed that this never happened thanks to something called “telenovelas.”
Growing up, telenovelas, or soap operas in Spanish, were big in our house.
They started in the early afternoon and lasted until the early evening hours.
During this time, no one was allowed to speak.
Silence was pivotal if any of the spectators were to understand the complicated lives of the protagonists.
One telenovela after another, my mother sat glued to the television, quieting anyone who dared to speak with a sharp, “Shh!”
Nana, in the meantime, carried on in the kitchen, mumbling what a waste of time it was to watch fictional accounts of people’s problems.
“Hija,” she would say, “don’t you have enough problems of your own that you have to become an audience to these people’s crisis and drama?”
“Mama,” my mother would reply, “My problems hardly resemble anything as interesting and intriguing as the ones these characters have.”
And she wasn’t kidding.
During commercials, everyone was treated to a blow-by-blow description of Marianita, one of the few living virgins, who was in love with Padre Juan, the priest, who was in love with Sarita, the Venezuelan expat, who was married to Pablo, the blind welder.
Even worse, my mother didn’t think listening to her scream, “Marianita, keep your virginity until you’re married!” was enough.
She turned every situation in the telenovela into a teaching moment.
Hence, we were reminded of the importance of not engaging in premarital sex, coveting our neighbor’s wealth, and more importantly, of not falling in love with the village priest.
Not that we lived in a village.
But to hear my mother speak, anyone would think my sisters and I had a hidden agenda for attending catechism.
Furthermore, my mother did not discriminate.
Everyone was invited into our home.
Characters from Venezuela, Mexico, Spain, Argentina, Puerto Rico; they all made their way into our living room and quickly became part of the family.
We dined with them, studied in spite of them, and relied on their troubles to lessen our own.
Maria, Pedrito, Alberto, Adela, Victoria, Claudio, and Miguelito.
They were like extended family, with the exception that we only saw our “real” relatives once a year, and we saw our telenovela relatives three and four times a day.
To this day, I’m convinced telenovelas are one of the reasons I moved out.
The competition was too fierce and frankly, I didn’t have the physical or mental energy to battle the likes of Marianita and Juan.
As far as I was concerned, these people were in a league of their own and they’d lured my mother to the dark side.
However, in all fairness, I have to admit that it was thanks to Marianita, that I learned how to feign being sick, how to faint at will, and how to bat my eyelashes in that special “come hither” manner.
Marianita is also the reason I probably won’t make it through the pearly gates of heaven.
Taking the Daughter to Sunday school one morning, I met Father Salvador, a real priest, who was so handsome, I was “forced” to incur in impure thoughts.
Marianita had been my role model and the way I saw it, if she could fall in love with a priest, I could damn well wonder what Father Salvador hid beneath his tunic.
The downfall of propriety as I knew it.
And all thanks to my mother and her addiction.
To this day, my mother still invests a great part of her day watching the newer Spanish soap operas.
Yet, she tells me they’re not the same.
The characters are too superficial and lack passion.
Luckily, the story line is still the same.
Nowadays, she’s able to witness how Pilar, who’s originally from Brazil but moved to Argentina to get to know her dying father, is secretly in love with her dentist, Marco, who’s really her brother, the son her mother gave up for adoption when she was fifteen, who’s secretly using his dental practice to launder money for the mob, who’ve threatened to kill him if he doesn’t do what they say.
So what does snow have to do with telenovelas?
I just wanted to share shots of today’s snow day with all of you!
Have you ever watched a telenovela or soap opera?