Rafa\’s Corner of Nonsense, Part Deux

… where Rafa\’s thoughts see the light of day…

Parental twinge

On my last flight I was seated next to a little boy, around 10 years old, that was evidently travelling alone (he was escorted to his seat by one of the flight attendants). He was wistfully looking out the window, and after a few minutes he started crying quietly. It wasn’t the annoying, attention-seeking cry of a spoiled little kid, but rather the mournful, dignified crying of a boy that’s old enough to feel shame for crying in public, and yet not old enough to be able to do anything about it. As his big sorrowful eyes welled up with tears, for the first time I felt what can only be described as a parental twinge, this notion that this boy needed taking care of and that I should somehow do just that: I felt this urge to put my arm around him, hold him tight, and tell him everything was going to be all right, or to at least ask him what was wrong.

Of course I did none of those things: the Rafa rooted in reality is as cowardly as he is not destined to be a parent. I glanced at him once in a while, watching him regain his composture, and wanting desperately for him to engage in conversation so I could try to make him feel better. During the flight we did talk a little bit about what he was seeing through the window and about just how many swimming pools people in Orlando have, but after he had calmed down it almost seemed cruel to bring up the subject and ask him why he had been crying. I could not tell if he was sad for someone he was leaving behind, something he was going to have to face after landing, or some deeper sorrow that would have inexorably followed him to the farthest corner of the earth.

After we deplaned, the thing that struck me was that all through the flight, even after he had stopped crying, I never once saw him smile.

A ten-year-old should always be smiling.


August 15, 2005 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Travelling while Puerto Rican

Having flown to and from Puerto Rico this past weekend, it occurs to me that, as air travellers, we Puerto Ricans have several distinguishing features. I shall try to list some of them:

1. Every member of the family needs to come to the airport to say goodbye — if the aisles in a Puerto Rican airport seem crowded, it’s because 90% of the people there are not travellers, but actually their families and extended families: they will accompany the actual travellers to the security checkpoint and stand there watching until the traveller has completely disappeared from view or landed at his or her destination, whichever occurs first

2. Puerto Ricans never travel light. Ever — this whole FAA mandate of allowing only one carry-on luggage and one “personal item” clearly doesn’t apply to Puerto Ricans: we need 4 bags per person, since we’re bringing pasteles and quesitos to no less than five relatives on the mainland

3. Everyone must travel with a baby — presumably since Hispanics are dead-set on taking over the United States one unwanted teenage pregnancy at a time, all Puerto Ricans must travel with at least one crying baby: note that it doesn’t matter if the Puerto Rican in question doesn’t even have a baby: it’s a little known fact that 90% of kidnappings in the country are a direct result of baby-less Puerto Ricans with an upcoming flight

4. The right time to board the plane is now — it doesn’t matter whether the airline is trying to board the plane by row numbers, or more quaintly, by group numbers: Puerto Ricans will stand up as soon as they start announcing the boarding process and will try (repeatedly if necessary) to board the plane regardless of the section currently being boarded (someone, after all, may take their seat if they don’t board right fucking now)

5. Everyone must clap upon landing — to thank the pilot for not smearing their bodies on the landing strip, Puerto Ricans will clap after the plane has landed (to the embarrassment and chagrin of the younger generations)

All that said, on my last flight this was an older gentleman that made a cellphone call to someone (presumably his daughter or grand-daughter) just because he hadn’t been able to properly say good-bye to her, to wish her well and give her his blessing: I found that to also be a typically-Puerto Rican gesture that kind of made me nostalgic for my long-gone grand-parents.

So, did I miss any? 🙂 I’m sure I did, so post away!

August 15, 2005 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

No longer a bastard! Weeeee!

I went to Puerto Rico this past weekend (just a short Friday-to-Sunday stint) to be at my parents’ church wedding (well, technically a vow renewal, as they got married by a justice of the peace 30 years ago). I guess this means I am no longer the Hell-bound bastard fruit of a Godless marriage, yeay! Well, I suppose it’s still debatable whether I am still Hell-bound, or a bastard for that matter (feel free to post your opinions on either account). 😉

The ceremony was nice, short, and just for the handful of close friends and family that attended. The day before the actual wedding, during the rehearsal, the priest roped my sister and me into doing some readings during the ceremony: and I thought I just came to walk Mom down the aisle and eat good food and cake! I guess God moves in mysterious ways (mainly because His representatives on Earth are quite sneaky)!

The funniest part of the ceremony was when the priest read a passage that insinuated that my Mom, over 60 years old, was “fertile soil,” which I guess is priest-speak for “barren rocky terrain where not even cacti would grow.” I think some of the passages should be tailored to the people being wed (the whole part about raising their children in the Church was particularly laughable: I am sorry to say that that ship has sailed, gotten lost at sea, and eaten by a sea serpent).

The reception was held at our house and I have to say I had a good time, as I got to see many relatives that I barely get to see anymore (the worst of which, in small doses, are still fun to be with). I did get plagued by the same question over and over: “So, when are you getting married?” Ok, let me state this plainly: that is ostensibly the stupidest question ever. Unless I had an actual fiancé, a wedding date, and the law on my side, the inevitable answer to that question is “I don’t know”: what answer are they actually expecting?

I am used to being asked that question by elderly folk: it seems that after a couple of generation gaps there are really very few topics of conversation that may be broached, from the banal (like the weather) to the horribly personal. I was surprised, however, that I was also asked the same question by other unmarried cousins, some younger, one about my age, and one even slightly older. My staple answer (since with the younger relatives I could afford to be more of my own smart-ass self) was: “Five days after you get married” (hopefully by then they will have forgotten all about it)! It was funny because, since my sister is getting married in December, even the priest had asked me: I felt quite tempted to say: “Well, never, if your Church has anything to say about it!”, but visions of fire and brimstone danced in my head and I decided to keep my trap shut.

I also found it curious that whenever an older relative asked and I said, as politely as I could, that I don’t know (not being a prescient seer and all), they always seemed a bit embarrassed to have asked and quickly replied that it was all right, that there was no hurry, and that I should just enjoy my bachelorhood (as if I had indicated any discontent in not being married), which leads me to ask why they were so intent in asking in the first place… but what can you do, right? Family: can’t live with ’em, can’t kill them and bury them in the cellar because there are no cellars in Puerto Rico.

And with that lovely murderous thought, I bid you adieu. 🙂

August 15, 2005 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Bad Paragraph! Bad Paragraph!

I was reading this year’s winners of the 2005 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. If you are unfamiliar with this contest, they basically challenge people to write really really bad first paragraphs for a potential novel or short story (apparently Edward George Bulwer-Lytton was the pretentiously-named novelist who gave us that staple of suspense novels, “It was a dark and stormy night”). Many of the paragraphs were indeed very funny, and I particularly liked this entry for the “Vile Puns” category:

Falcon was her name and she was quite the bird of prey, sashaying past her adolescent admirers from one anchor store to another, past the kiosks where earrings longed to lie upon her lobes and sunglasses hoped to nestle on her nose, seemingly the beginning of a beautiful friendship with whomsoever caught the eye of the mall tease, Falcon.

Jay Dardenne
Baton Rouge, LA

I shall now try my hand at this, evoking the spirit of Agatha Christie if she had been a pill-popping crack addict:

The butler served the afternoon tea to Lord Nigel Thurpleton III, and gave him a smile clearly saying “The Butler Did It!” that went unseen, which explains why they found Lord Thurpleton III dead four hours later with a dagger in his heart with a note saying “Go fetch your own damn tea!” written in perfect penmanship.

Can you come up with a bad first paragraph, too? 🙂

August 8, 2005 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Murphy reads my blog!

So, less than a month after my proclamation that all was quiet and all was good, a bomb-shell was dropped that left me once again in singlehood, and after a week of absence from work I also had a couple of pretty stressful and miserable work days. Ok, Murphy, I take it back: all is neither quiet nor good anymore, you win! 🙂

I spent a couple of days in an (understandable) funk, but after thinking about it for a bit I realized that I could not see our relationship lasting until our sixties, after having adopted our third Vietnamese baby (Po Dân) and our fourth cat… so it was probably for the best that it ended sooner rather than later (although I was having a lot of fun).

Don’t worry, after the initial shock things have been talked out and I’m sure we can still be friends; not being able to see each other anymore would have been much harder to bear.

But, just to be safe, I will never again discuss my personal life on my blog (call me supersticious!). 😉

June 2, 2005 Posted by | Uncategorized | 7 Comments

All is quiet, all is good…

You might have wondered, if you are the sort to wonder about such things, why I haven’t blogged in about a month.

Well, since you asked (shut up, you did too ask!), I’ll tell you: things are good! 🙂 Things at work are busy but I’m having fun (against all conceivable logic) with the extra responsibility I’ve been given. Things at home are even better! 😀 (If you have problems guessing what I meant by that, you are entirely too naïve to read this blog: go away and read web cartoons or something).

Of course, my guy doesn’t read my blog (he apparently took exception to my scathing wine rants, which is a shame because that wasn’t my intent and because it’s unfathomable how anyone could take anything I say or write to heart): I guess this means I can talk about him all I want and he’ll never know, hehe. But I wouldn’t do that, of course. 😉

I guess when something else upsets me enough to rant about, you’ll be hearing from me again. I know, I know: “Be still my beating heart,” right? Well, try to contain your excitement in the meantime and see you later! 🙂

May 3, 2005 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

More on the wine rant…

I forgot to add, amidst all the rantiness of my previous post, that I don’t hate wine in and of itself; true, I don’t like its taste, but then I’m not ranting against olive juice or some other decidedly repugnant drink I don’t like but that other (not-quite-as-sane) people do like.

What I dislike is the cult towards wine in our society, the way something which is nothing more than a drink has been elevated to some élite status, to where it’s a symbol of style and sophistication. What’s the big deal about wine in particular?

I also hate how it seems impossible to have any kind of “romantic interlude” without involving either wine or champagne (which is nothing more than wine with soda farts floating in it). Who was the pompous lush who decided that for it to be romantic it must involve spoiled grape juice in some form?

So again, my rant is not due to the fact that I personally dislike wine. For instance, I like coffee; however, the way some people talk about coffee (where the beans are from, the way they’re ground, the process of making the coffee, the things they add to the coffee), they make it seem as though it’s rocket science and makes me want to bash in their heads with a big ceramic mug and then just blame it on a caffeine overdose. It’s just coffee, people!

Follow along if you can:

Coffee beans + boiling water = coffee

Just like:

Grape juice + lack of refrigeration = wine

Drink up if you want, wine lovers, but really, get over yourselves!

March 8, 2005 Posted by | Rant | 9 Comments

News break, wine-drinkers: wine’s just rancid grape juice!

I’ve never quite understood the fascination some people have with wine. If some extraterrestrial came down from the skies from their home planet, Fernobulax Prime, and you had to explain to him what wine was, you’d be hard-pressed to say anything that doesn’t boil down to “it’s rancid grape juice.” Of course, Fernobulaxian’s grasp of English is tenuous at best, and they get testy pretty quickly when they try to understand something and cannot, so I’d recommend avoiding this situation altogether.

But I digress. My point is, what’s so damn special about spoiled grape juice, where there are people who study wines for a living and make it sound like it’s such an important thing, and who come up with annoyingly hoity-toity terms to describe it, such as “earthy” or “fruity” (whereas only one adjective, “rancidy,” is actually accurate, even if the word doesn’t actually exist).

I guess the answer is that people are sheep. Someone in olden times (where they didn’t have refrigeration and drinking rancid juice was just a normal occurrence) decided that this wasn’t spoiled grape juice, mais non, Monsieur! (I’ve decided this person was French, and I defy you to contradict me): this was WINE! Nectar of the Gods! Heavenly ambrosia suckled from Mother Nature’s liquor-engorged teats! Succulent spirit that makes you gently caress the face of angels! Rancid grape juice! Sorry, what? Too much truth on that last one? My bad!

The point is that once people got it into their heads that drinking old grape juice was not disgusting, but actually chic, then everybody started doing it to feel cool, to belong to the élite who drinks something they would have thrown out of their fridge if they didn’t have a whole culture dedicated to savoring it instead. I mean, really folks: one-month old grape juice? Disgusting and trash-bound! Decades-old grape juice? Delicious and veneration-worthy! Baaaaah!

My question is, why grape juice? Can’t you pretty much ferment any juice, make it alcoholic and get it to taste like ass? I will now try to see if I can get enough idiots to start drinking spoiled mango juice: I’ll just give it a snobby-sounding French name, such as “manginé,” say I’ve been aging it for decades in barrels made of wood from Noah’s Ark, and that instead of tasting “fruity” or “earthy” people should notice it tastes “pious,” or “religiousy” (and you’d be surprised how many people would start using those very same adjectives to describe it, too!).

You know what would make my day? If someone came up and announced to the world that this whole wine-drinking thing had been a giant practical joke, cooked up by those feisty Romans thousands of years ago, and that all wines in the world are just Welch’s grape juice left out of the fridge for a month. White wine? They just added some water! Rosé wine? They added some water AND some red coloring #11! Yup: you are all ignorant, pompous asses, and nothing more than sheep for declaring which wine went best with which food or which wine should be drunk in what season of the year. It’s all spoiled Welch’s grape juice, morons! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

What say you? Are there any wine-lovers in the hizzouse? If there are, I must inform you that giving me money is chic and all the cool people are doing it… and you wouldn’t want to be “uncool” and not give me money, would you?! 😉

March 6, 2005 Posted by | Rant | Leave a comment

New term: “The Booger Argument”

I’ve always wanted to coin a turn of phrase. I envy the guys who made up the site for “jump the shark” and turned the phrase into a well-known reference being used by people who probably have no idea of its inception.

To wit, I offer up a phrase I invented, which I shall then proceed to explain and give its origin.


booger argument: n. something said during the course of a discussion which is so ridiculous that it is evident it is pointless to continue arguing with that person

I shall now give the etymology of this phrase:

I had caught my sister picking her nose and then happily proceed to bite the nail of the same finger she picked her nose with: I called her on it, and told her that was gross. My sister is loathe to concede defeat, so obviously she started arguing with me, asking me what was the big deal. I pointed out the rather obvious fact that boogers are dirty, and thus she could get sick. She then proceeded to shock me with what will henceforth be known as the booger argument: she said that even though I didn’t eat my boogers when I was little and she did, I got a lot more strep throats in my youth and she didn’t, so maybe eating boogers boosted her immune system and that’s why she didn’t get sick so often.

Yes: in order to win an argument, my Cornell-graduate, law-student sister actually advocated the eating of boogers. At that point I just held up my hands and said: “You know what? I can’t argue with someone who has said something like that. So you win.”

That, my friends, is a booger argument.

Please feel free to look for other “booger arguments” in your daily life, and if you find any, please post a reply to this post and share the wealth! 🙂

March 5, 2005 Posted by | New term | 7 Comments

I wants me some human meat!

I heard somewhere that a poll of cannibal tribes (and please don’t ask me whom you have to piss off to get the job of “Cannibal Tribe Pollster”) revealed that human flesh tastes most similar to pork (I would have guessed “chicken,” if only for comedic effect, but oh well).

Could this be true? Is that why once a wild animal tastes human flesh it has to be killed, because it always tries to eat more humans? I’m sorry, but I’ve had ham and bacon, and if we humans taste anything close to bacon, I not only perfectly understand these animals, I must confess I’m kinda curious to try me some human meat!

“Oh, Rafa,” you might say, “that’s disgusting! How dare you say you’d eat another human being!” Ok, first of all, who the hell are you, and how are you writing directly to my blog?! Second, I never said I’d eat another human being: that’s way too much meat for me; I just wanna try me a slice! Plus, I’m on a diet, and judging from the average American, I would get a coronary if I ate an entire human being. So no. Not so much.

Also, I’m sure if I could convince you that the person the meat came from was a total asshole, or at the very least, occassionally rude, your mind would be at ease and you wouldn’t feel so bad about your wanton, Godless flesh-eating.

Finally, two words: Atkins Friendly. Need I say more?

February 14, 2005 Posted by | Uncategorized | 8 Comments