Monday, April 13, 2009

Portuguese Something-or-Others

There was an annoying, cloying, and ultimately untrustworthy little troll who blustered around a radio station where I worked. Unlike the other little trolls, he was not employed there. He loitered there, getting raised-eyebrow looks from on-air personalities who had heard a rumor (which he devised and did not deny) that he was related to the station's owner.
I had no self-esteem in those days, so I sometimes chauffeured him around since he lived on my way home. As some twisted form of payment, he felt obliged to share with me chestnuts of wisdom which ranged from advice about personal manner ( "We gotta develop you a swagger" ) to alternate sources of income ( "All them mailboxes on your street have checks in 'em" ).
But once, he said something that I found nearly tenable:
"Portuguese," he said, "will be the new Jewish slang."
Go on.
"You know how comics use Yiddish words? Gets a laugh everytime. But it's so last year, like Catskills-Borscht-Belt old. They're gonna need a new set of funny foreign words, and we've got'em all right here in Fall River. Start usin' 'em in everyday conversation, around town, and they'll catch on like wildfire."
Since I recalled that he actually had started a wildfire once, I listened as he rattled off Portuguese anthropomorphisms and terms for bodily functions, none of which had the ha-ha like michigas or cockamamie (or even kakameyme). Now, decades later, funny Portagee slang has yet to take off. Emeril Lagasse hasn't exploited his childhood neighbors' linguistic heritage (only their culinary heritage) and although he mispronounces Portuguese cooking terms regularly, it is important to note that "BAM!" is not a Portuguese slang term. (And it isn't funny anyway, unless Elzar says it when presenting the check to Bender.)
But I'm sure that when cabeça dos peixes is a sought-after Saturday Night Live T-shirt, my old work buddy'll be right there taking credit and bragging that he was ahead of that curve.
Which brings me to the things that have "Portuguese" in their names: the Obama's new dog, which I mentioned back in February, and I reprint here:

Please understand that I appreciate the Portuguese Water Dog. In fact, I am sometimes considered one: Portuguese + water + dog = Your Third Mate.
  • A Cão de agua Português, according to the American Kennel Club, is an exceptional swimmer and diver, the breed retrieved broken nets, dove for
    fish, carried messages between boats and to shore, and guarded the boat for his
    master in foreign ports
    . Yep. Number Three, four legs.
  • Which is why I like the idea of The New Guy and his family allowing one to
    inhabit our White House. Were I leader of the free world, I would have
    bird-dogged a more nativist pup name like an AMERICAN Staffordshire Terrier or
    AMERICAN Foxhound or Chesapeake Bay Retriever or -- keeping it at least on this
    continent -- a Labrador or Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever or Newfoundland or
    AMERICAN Eskimo Dog or Alaskan Malamute.
  • As long as the last two don't insinuate any ugly election memories.
  • So, maybe the Portuguese Water Dog is the right choice, as long as they don't get talked into giving it a goofy shave job like this:
  • All right! I got your thing. Now give me back my butt fur.And, most importantly: Bolos levedos or Portuguese muffins. As the packaging states, there's no preservatives, and they're low in sodium, cholesterol, and fat. So it's a good idea to slather them in butter to make up for those particular shortcomings. I've made some tasty cheeseburgers with them. They're about the size of a small dinner plate. The one drawback to them is that you can get into some pretty tough scrapes in Fall River if you insist that Amaral's are better than Tony's (wait, I thought that Amaral's was Tony's. Oh, that's Antonio's). Or Central's ... or Lopes' or Faria's. Or someplace in New Jersey.
    The First Family cão loves 'em!


    chuck said...

    Since my bride carries the guidon for the "Portugiddish" movement I'll say it's best served in very small portions.

    ThirdMate said...