Friday, January 20, 2012

I Will Beat You With a Pork Chop

Mention a chancla or chancleta to any Latino or Latina and you will either see them shudder and/or their face will turn pale. They might break out in a cold sweat. They might flinch if you make a quick movement.

Growing up many of us were threatened with the evil chancleta. For you who do not know what a chancla is, it is basically a flip-flop. A flip-flop you say. Yes, a flip-flop or slipper or even a sandal of some sort.

I have spoken to other Latinos and we all have our childhood memories of dodging chancletas. We all knew when abuela or mami said I am going to give you a chancletazo, we were goners.

We would run and we would hide. But damn if those women didn't find us and give us a good whack. Now don't get me wrong, it was not a beating because, honestly, flip flops are so floppy they don't really leave marks or really hurt. It was just the idea that you were so bad that someone would have to take off their shoe and throw it at you.

You could dodge a chancleta but you had to be fast. You had to be wily. You had twist and spin. You had to know when to duck and cover. If you were slow, you were dead. If you hesitated, you were dead. If you took the wrong turn, you were dead. You had to know where the exits were. Running outside was always the best way to avoid the chancleta because whoever was wielding that slipper only had one shoe on and they were certainly not going to run outside like that.

Of course, you had to stay out long enough for them to forget they owed you a whack. Otherwise, you would sneak back and minutes later you see that chancleta coming right at you. ((shudder)) Of course, I felt the wrath of the chancleta once or twice in my life. I think my sister got whacked more than me because, let's be honest, I was a saintly child. I was such a joy to be around and such a beautiful angelic little girl who never did bad things.

But my one or two times with the chancleta will never be forgotten. Non-Latinos sometimes don't get my obsession with the chancleta. It is just something that they never had to deal with. I am sure they had their own horror stories but for us Latinos, it is the chancleta.
I have tried to explain the chancleta to Tom. Oftentimes, I threaten him with a chancla but he mocks me. He has never felt the power of the chancleta so he doesn't understand, bless his heart. But he has heard me tell my stories of terror enough times that I think little by little he is understanding the horror I lived with.

So the other day, I was doing nothing and all of a sudden he accused me of doing bad things as he always does. I mean, I was a saintly child and now I am a saintly adult so I don't understand why he was accusing me of doing bad things. Anyway, he turns around and says to me: "I will whack you with a chuleta."

Now if you know Spanish, you are laughing right about now. If you don't know Spanish then I have to explain it to you. A chuleta is a pork chop. It took me half a second before I burst out laughing and said: What? A chuleta? Then I laughed some more. He looked at me funny because he probably figured I would cower with his threat. In between my laughing I had to explain to him that a chuleta is a pork chops and that pork chops don't strike fear into my heart. In fact, I love pork.

I have to give it up to Tom though because he tries. He actually knows a lot of Spanish. He doesn't speak it that well but I always have to be careful if I am talking about him in Spanish but he understands more than he lets on.

So I set him straight and told him that I might actually like having pork thrown at me especially if it is a well cooked pork belly or maple flavored bacon. Yum.


  1. Saintly? I bet you just didn't get caught. A chuleta would definitely not scare this Cuban. I would fry and have beans before you could say chancleta!

  2. Did lightning strike you around the middle of this post? Once I stopped laughing at the idea you were ever an angel the Tom part wasn't as funny. :-p

  3. This sounds like a slip up my hubby would have =)

  4. I am so glad you write about your culture. It's great to understand those binds so to speak.
    I guess I can imagine the horror of having one of those thrown. I mean, the foot of someone else has been on there. Smack on your face...yuck!!
    Great piece, Carolyn. Thanks.

  5. Ha ha, that's funny. It's amazing how much one word can sound like another in a language you don't know.

  6. OMG!! that is so funny, he's sweet. at least you know he is listening,

  7. Hahaha! That is too funny! And kind of cute. My hubby and I have done the same thing. Him with words in English and me with a word or two in Spanish. :)

  8. Too funny! I'm sure I'd say the wrong word as well.

  9. jajajaja! (that is my laughing with a part-Cuban accent)
    We didn't have to worry about chancletas, we had to worry about switches that we would be sent to the bushes to get ourselves to be beaten with...OMG, I think you've just inspired me to write a post. LOL