Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Views from a Troubled Mind
Scene #9

Porcelain "Bonita Muchacha"

Que Bonito El Bonito

In a small village in Mexico, an angry father went into the neighboring project to see about his sons being pelted with rocks. 15 minutes later, the man lay on the ground, his bloody hands holding in the guts spilling from the stab wounds in his belly. As the story goes, the wounded man said. "Que bonito el bonito."

People who understand a little Spanish would be quick to translate this phrase as "How pretty is pretty." But that would be wrong. The masculine use of "bonito" (rather than the feminine "bonita") changes the entire meaning. A more accurate translation would be, "How beautiful is life."

Take into consideration the circumstances of the man on the ground, bleeding out. Imagine the scene a few minutes earlier when the father confronts some older boys (bullies, gang members, or sociopaths), who react to the questions or accusations of the older man as annoying, bothersome, or insulting. Whichever the case, in the man's eyes, the older boys overreacted to his assertions about the pelting of his sons. This view by the man can be deduced by the use of "bonito", which has to modify a masculine subject (in this case, the stabbing, the knife, or the absurdity of the overreaction leading to his guts hanging out).

If the word were "bonita", the subject would have to be feminine (only "blood", namely sangre, is feminine); in which case, "Que bonita la bonita" could refer to all the blood escaping his open guts. However, he chose the masculine form to describe his situation to whoever was close enough to hear his sarcastic phrase. "Que bonito el bonito" thus refers most likely to situation rather than condition (being stabbed rather than bleeding out). In other words, he is saying, "Oh, what a lovely day" (Mad Max fans will understand).

The reason I bring this up is because it is a phrase that is common to my people. I really don't know the real origin of the words, but the above origin is the one that's commonly told to those who never heard the phrase. It doesn't work politically or emotionally; it only works in gory situations of life and death. A pane of glass falls from the window of a tall building during an earthquake and slits a pedestrian in two. While some people might scream or look away, others will say "Que bonito el bonito."

Atheists would use the phrase to mean "bonito" as God (in the words of Al Bundy, "Good one, Lord"). Nihilists would use the phrase to mean "It's a wonderful life." Horror fans could use it to give a perfect score to a horror film or book. Crazy people would use it to mean, "I'm the only one who sees life as it truly is, suckers."

Remember, only hardcore Mexicans use the phrase. It has never translated well for American born Latinos. When we see death in all its bloody glory, we tend to say, "Grody to the max" or "Splash, your table is ready." We refer to Freddy Kruger more than the actual beheadings by cartel hitmen. For Mexicans, they devise phrases more attuned to the cartel violence they see on a near weekly basis on the streets or a daily basis on the TV news; they avoid phrases based on the gory killings of Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees. Yet in both American and Mexican cultures, we love our horror heroes, as long as they're not real.

Maybe Americans do tend to worship killers a bit too much (Bonnie and Clyde, Al Capone, Ed Gein). But I can't think of any phrases that were born from sociopaths. I could be wrong. When I think of "Que bonito el bonito", I don't admire anyone. If anything, it's meant to elicit a chuckle, not admiration. It reduces visceral horror to a level of laughter. And what could be funnier than holding in your guts with both your hands!?

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