By Alice Chaummers
There was a lot of spooning going on in Parque de la Madre last Friday, at least from this reporter’s vantage point.
In case you don’t know, spooning is when a guy snuggles up behind a women, his crotch to her butt, fully clothed (otherwise, it’s called something else). It’s commonly practiced by young couples as they lie on the grass in various venues, such as parks and college greens.
Some of you old timers might recall back in the ‘50s and ‘60s when spooning was a hot controversy on college campuses. Students caught spooning by spies for the student dean could be hauled before the honor court and, if found guilty, be demeritted or, in extreme cases, expelled. At Ole’ Miss, lynching was the standard punishment.
The reason for the all spooning in local parks and other public places is that most unmarried young people in Latin America live at home with generally prudish parents and engaging in demonstrations of affection, especially dry humping, is verboten. For a little background on the issue, click here.
My favorite spooning story comes courtesy of one of my favorite novelists, Vladimir Nabokov.
One day in the 1950s, in the English department faculty lounge at Cornell University, a rather prim and proper lady professor and noted scholar of Wordsworthian sonnets was looking out the window onto the campus green when she exclaimed with great indignation, “Oh my God, they’re spooning again!” Not missing a beat, Nabokov replied, “Well Mildred, you should be thankful that they’re not forking.”
What about all that graffiti?
I was at a dinner party the other night when an expat lady announced — with almost as much indignation as the Cornell professor of sonnets — that the graffiti problem had never been worse in Cuenca. Jim, the fellow sitting opposite her, asked how long she had been in town.
“Two years,” she replied.
“Well,” said Jim, “if you think it’s bad now you should have seen it 20 years ago. Things are infinitely better today and they’re improving.”
I can vouch for Jim on this. When I toured Ecuador in 2000 I remember that many of the walls of El Centro Cuenca were absolutely covered in graffiti, from sidewalk to eves. Unlike today, most of it was leftist politics: “Down with the fascist president,” “No free trade,” and “Workers unite,” were common if rather unimaginative slogans. What I remember most were the Young Communist League stencils, two or three to a block in some cases, each showing a raised red fist.
Today, most of the graffiti is non-political, usually tags with occasional proclamations of love. The change seems worthy of research, don’t you think? The times they are a changin’? I guess commies aren’t cool any more.
For those interested in doing something about graffiti instead of bitching about it there’s a new Facebook page dedicated to the cause.
Restaurant News from the Plaza
Renovation is almost compete on the building on the northeast corner of Luis Cordero and Simon Bolivar, across from Parque Calderon. Owned by members of the billionario Eljuri family, the mottled sepia structure — they called it “faux technique” in the home improvement class I took at Home Depot — has served as a warehouse for as long as anyone can remember but will soon reopen, I am told, with restaurants, shops and offices.
I peeked inside the other day and was impressed with the work, which has uncovered original wall murals that have been restored.
Through the grapevine I hear that Gladys Eljuri, one of the owners, has turned down at least two potential Cuencano restaurant tenants telling them she does not want a comida tipica establishment on the premises: she is only interested in a restaurant that serves international cuisine. Whether we’re talking Le Meurice, Benihana or KFC is anyone’s guess. All we know for sure is that they won’t be roasting up any cuys on the kitchen grill.
Another Ecuadorian joke
A man goes into a Cuenca tailor shop to have a broken shirt button replaced.
The tailor takes a look and says, “No problem, it will ready Friday,” and hands the man a claim ticket.
The next day the man gets a call that his mother is sick in Quito and he leaves town. One thing leads to another and the man stays in Quito for two years to look after his elderly parents.
When he returns to Cuenca the man discovers the ticket for the shirt, which he figures is long gone, but decides to check anyway. He goes back to sastreria on Presidente Cordova and hands the tailor the ticket. The tailor looks at it, frowns, and says wait a minute. He disappears behind a curtain into the backshop.
He comes out a few minutes later and says, “No problem, it will be ready Friday.”