My Quixotic Grandmother Is Not On facebookTuesday, November 29, 2011
I never caught on until I was fully grown how ahead of her times she was in the education and rearing of children. Since she lived with us for many years and my mother was a busy full-time high school teacher, my Abue was the one who disciplined me and taught me educación, which is Spanish for manners.
She never spanked me and as far as I can remember she never ever shouted at me or ever dealt with me in anger. Her system, if I may be cute, just because I want to sound cute, was quixotic. But her quixotic went beyond the usual definition of purely idealistic. If any have read Don Quijote (in Spanish the Spaniards insist that x must be a j) de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra you might know that Sancho had that unstoppable bad habit of quoting aphorisms and proverbs whenever he could. His annoying habit may have been what finally pushed our Hidalgo to confront windmills.
My Abue was Sancho to my not so ingenious Quijote (remember that the original full title of Cervantes’s work was El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha).
If I refused to eat at the table, Abue would not angrily force me to eat or attempt to punish me. She would simply say to me, “El burro que se acostumbró a no comer, se murió.”(the burro that grew accustomed to not eat, died).
I found many years later, that many of these refranes (proverbs) were from the Quijote. Another of her favourites was, “El que por su gusto de muere, cantando lo entierran.” (He who dies because he wants to, will be buried with all of us singing.)
Looking back she never told me not to do something because if I did I would be punished. Her advice, quixotic, was always positive in which I was allowed to ruminate the consequences of my action.
Unlike the real Don Quijote I have always enjoyed good proverbs and aphorisms - in moderation.
But I do have one very big pet peeve and this is about the “idiots” on facebook who seem to think that they have two very important contributions to our wellbeing. One is to point us to crazy (sometimes good) links to videos, music, articles or essays through links. The second, and to be seen with alarming and dismaying frequency, is the contribution of the aphorism for the day. Another way of saying it is that these people think that the aphorisms will make us believe that they are deep and sensitive thinkers. I would add only via Hallmark. These "proverbiage" makers are keen to tell us that today's morning was glorious and life is good. They might have Bulwer-Lyttonesque ambition.
My friend a Vancouver Magazine co-worker (both of us are ex-co-workers) Les Wiseman had a brother, who worked for the BC Ferries who would sometimes visit his brother at the office. He came with a briefcase. Those of us who knew him would immediately hide. In that briefcase there were scads of words of the day, jokes of the week and stuff he cut out from newspapers (printers were not needed in those days that came before the more modern paperless environment of our present times).
It is alarming for me to note all the joke squares and funny videos to be found on facebook. None seem to have the charm of the huge idaho potatoes (unrealistically colourized) on rail flat cars that were the craze as postcards in the first half of the 20the century.
Perhaps now those thick square calendar blocks have gone the route of fax machines, phone conversations and Hydramatic transmissions. But they have not exactly disappeared. In facebook (I may be the only one who follows the facebook typography style of not using a cap) you will now find square, brilliantly coloured squares with such stuff as Life is short, live wide, or The Meaning of Life is Unreachable. Luckily the people who post these are on facebook and not on a desert island with someone like Don Quijote. They would truly be lanced in a jiffy.
Wiseman’s brother just has to be behind all this. That is the only explanation.
Addendum: From Alexandre Dumas's The Three Musketeers, Chapter X, Council of War
Athos to Grimaud:
'The position is critical so you may speak. Quick what have you seen?'
'A party of the enemy.'
'What are they?'
'Sixteen pioneers [pionnier or engineer] and four soldiers.'
'How far are they?'
'About five hundred yards.'
'Good. We've got time to finish this chicken and drink a bottle of wine. Your good health, D Artagnan.'
'Your health!' echoed Porthos and Aramis.
'Right my health it is!' said d'Artagnan. 'Not that I think your toast will help much.' [he is being pursued by four of the enemy including Milady and Richelieu.]
'Cheer up!' said Athos. 'As the Mohammedans say, Allah is great and the future is in his hands.'