Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Parigüayos.

29 Nov

The following references are from:

by Junot Díaz ».

This book is about the brief coming of age of a Dominican-American boy.

Chapter 1, Pages 19-20:
“… During the First Occupation it was reported that members of the American Occupying Forces would often attend Dominican parties but instead of joining in the fun the Outlanders would simply stand at the edge of dances and watch. Which of course must have seemed like the craziest thing in the world. Who goes to a party to watch? Thereafter, the Marines were parigüayos » — a word that in contemporary usage describes anyone who stands outside and watches while other people scoop up the girls. The kid who don’t dance, who ain’t got game, who lets people clown him — he’s the parigüayo.” …

Chapter 1, Pages 19-20

This bit was taken from one of the footnotes. Normally, I hate footnotes in novels, but in this novel, the footnotes work. If you’re curious about Dominican history, but don’t want to pick up a history book, this is the book for you.

Chapter 1, Page 24:
… “Anywhere else his triple-zero batting average with the ladies might have passed without comment, but this is a Dominican kid we’re talking about, in a Dominican family: dude was supposed to have Atomic Level G, was supposed to be pulling in the bitches with both hands. Everybody noticed his lack of game and because they were Dominican everybody talked about it …”

Chapter 1, Page 24

This story is about Oscar, the parigüayo with the .000 batting average. This story is also about other normal messed-up kids growing up. But you get a sense that there’s a difference between messed-up and born-in-Trujillo-era-Dominican messed-up.

Chapter 5, Page 217:
… “Hiding your doe-eyed, large-breasted daughter from Trujillo, however, was anything but easy. (Like keeping the Ring from Sauron.) If you think the average Dominican guy’s bad, Trujillo was five thousand times worse. Dude had hundreds of spies whose entire job was to scour the provinces for his next piece of ass; if the procurement of ass had been any more central to the Trujillato the regime would have been the world’s first culocracy (and maybe, in fact, it was) …”

Chapter 5, Page 217

This is a history lesson I can sink my teeth into. I think of bachata, merengue and even reggaeton, and of some of the popular musicians behind the songs. Behind the dark sunglasses and behind the bling, I can’t help but feel the musicians’ humility. Maybe it’s a type of humility that’s passed down in cultures that have lived through dictatorships.

Chapter 6, Page 276:
“… after he’d gone to about fifty clubs and because he couldn’t dance salsa, merengue, or bachata had sat and drunk Presidentes while Lola and his cousins burned holes in the floor …”

Chapter 6, Page 276

I used to muse that the meaning of life is to make babies, but I have since improved on this. Now, I think the meaning of life is to make babies, who can raise their babies well. Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be parigüayos.
“Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys”, by Waylon Jennings » and Willie Nelson ».
Salsa Gigolometer 110


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