top of page
  • Writer's pictureMiguel Fernández

Ethnic Jealousy 3, Alfacinhas

Updated: Apr 17, 2023

01_ I did my military service from December 1966 to February 1969 at the EFORM School for Training Officers of the Navy Reserve. Do not exist anymore. It was equivalent to the Army's CPOR that still exists today. We were all university students. Most from engineering and medicine, one or the other from law, economics, sociology, architecture. In total, about 100 “aspirants” per year divided into 4 “groups”: Armada Deck, Armada Maquinas, Fuzileiro Naval and Intendencia. It lasted 2.5 years: on Feb. 10, July, Feb. 10, July and Feb. 10, that is, on vacation so as not to disturb the university. 02_ This class in Feb69 “embarked” twice for naval warfare exercises (training). The first one in July 67 going to Salvador (BA) and Santos (SP), me on the cruiser Barroso (C11). The second time was from December 15, 1968 to February 15, 1969, already as a Marine Guard (GM), with the Brazilian “fleet” (as far as I remember, an aircraft carrier, a frigate, two destroyers and a submarine), going to Salvador , Cape Verde, Canary Islands, Cadiz, Lisbon, Dakar and Rio, me on the aircraft carrier Minas Gerais (A11) 03_ Roughly speaking, the ship's crew was divided into 5 “shifts” (or “guards”). On land, the shifts were 24-hour shifts, as the week has 7 days, the relays never fell on the same day of the week for the same “shift” and ended up being random. And even for shifts with rotations of six or four hours, no shift always took the same time. 04_ Upon arriving in Cadiz, we stopped for 4 days and my shift completed the shift on the day of arrival, that is, we had the 4 consecutive days “on land”. I even went to visit Seville. Me, Engel, Rainho and Tiago rented a SEAT 500. I don't know how we fit in the car. 05_ We were so lucky that, upon arriving in Lisbon, our shift again took 4 days straight on land. We went back to the small group and rented a car, this time a little bigger. We got to visit Coimbra (and Conimbriga, recently discovered!). 06_ On the last day in Lisbon we went to a “Fado Raiz” house. It was the “point” of fado for tourists. Upon entering, I glanced at the twilight of the place and identified a couple of tables with officers from the police station, another two with other colleagues, as many tourists at other tables, and a long empty table.

07_ About 30 women arrived and sat down at the long table. Graduation trip from a female college in São Paulo! All in their 18-19 years and four “old ladies” teachers aged between 40-45. That was a “drawn” lottery ticket. People aged 21-22, both groups traveling for days, let's have testosterone! While the live music did not start, the dance began, the 12 midshipmen present taking the girls to dance while the officers took care of the 4 “crowns”. 08_ As there were more than two girls for each midshipman, gluttony harmed reason, each of the 12 wanting to be with the most beautiful ones. Although in the flower of age everyone is beautiful, some more less, but all beautiful, gluttony, arrogance, imbecility settles in the majority. As is well known, the most beautiful ones tend to also be the most stuck-up, the most demanding, the most difficult, the most boring, and everything else. 09_ Although there in that twilight no mister or miss Brazil could be seen, each one trying to be the prettiest, lost a lot of time and the chances of mating. Live Fado started and only a few had found a possible partnership.

10_ Once the show was over, everyone dispersed and accompanied the girls to the hotel door, nearby. Those who had no chance of mating or empathizing with someone were already heading to the boats, as the departure was scheduled for the following day around noon. In my small group we knew that one of us would have to return the car to the rental company at dawn. 11_ A small group went to stretch out at the hotel bar. Our friend Tiago went with his new friend, everyone dying of envy. Soon after, he left us at the pier where the Airplane Carrier was parked (which was impressive) and left with the car. There were three of us in the back seat and the couple in the front seat. From here on out the narrative is part what James told us and part what we saw. 12_ Returning to drop off the girl, strolling along the banks of the Tagus River, they decided to park the car in the parking lot in the garden next to the Belém Tower, right on the riverfront, to watch the “submarine races”, as they said. The euphemism implied occupying the back seat of the car, as was customary. At that time, it was the only car in the parking lot on the entire bank of the Tagus River as far as the eye could see. Outside, the bitter cold of the Lisbon winter.

13_ Everything was going very well, according to the script, the couple sweating inside the car, the outside was very cold, the windows fogged up, nothing could be seen either from the outside to the inside or from the inside to the outside. And so it was for about an hour, oblivious to life. 14_ At some point, a big shock: someone was talking loudly and hitting hard with some metallic object on the car window. At the same time, a glove tried to clean the glass from the outside, although the biggest fogging was on the inside. But I could tell it was the police because there was a “vehicle” with the lights flashing. They began to recompose themselves wearing the clothes that had been removed, not only to face the cold outside but also because they thought it was not good to show up dressed as they were. At these times, a minute seems like an eternity, especially with the police on your heels and you being a foreigner. 15_ As it started to look like they were going to break a glass, Tiago ended up leaving anyway still putting on his belt and uniform (I forgot to say that on that day it was mandatory to be in one of those gala uniforms, full of brocades as they say in fashion shows carnival). The police realized that the boy was from the visiting police station and if on the one hand they calmed down, they wanted to take advantage of the situation, embarrassing him for being there, at that time (2 am?), in that condition, buttoning the fly of his uniform, etc..

16_ While pretending to be sly, asking which law he was breaking, that parking was allowed there, etc., etc. the subject does not leave the point. The police wanted to see who else was in the car and Tiago wouldn't let them because his friend needed time to change a minimum of clothes: Brazilians in the European winter make the famous millefeuille, and it's difficult to rearrange everything, not even leaving half of the clothes behind. "sheets". 17_ And the “alfacinhas” (pejorative nickname that other Portuguese people give to people from Lisbon) wanted or threatened to take them to the police station (they were called “comissaría”) to register whatever it was, but it would start with an indecent assault and the GM, very jealous of his chivalry, could not agree to “book” the girl under these circumstances. 18_ He appealed in every way and they ended up agreeing on a bribe (do you think it's only overseas?). But the policemen were adamant about US$ 100.00 (the GM had only US$ 50.00), until the “girl” couldn't contain herself any longer and got out of the car despite the pleas not to leave (afraid that the situation could escalate). slipping into a “curra”, was what crossed his mind, he told us).

19_ But when she left and the police saw that she was also Brazilian (not Portuguese), miracle!: they changed their posture. The problem passed into the realm of “another people's self-determination,” and international relations seemed to transcend their scope or interest. 20_ It was evident that, not being a countrywoman, the psychological part (jealousy) was resolved. Old thing, latent in humans: when a guy from the west side appears in the east side, or vice versa as Bolinha and Luluzinha knew very well. 21_ They quickly took the U$$ 50 (where the negotiation had stopped) and left with the appearance of duty fulfilled. 22_ The colleague also told us that he was afraid of arriving late in the morning to the ship and being punished, although the adventure was worth 100 punishments. Her shift would start at 08:00, but she ended up going into the hotel and spending the night there, hidden by her friend. It was then that he realized that she was very rich and did what she wanted in the group, including having a room of her own while the others on the “tour” shared rooms.

23_ He ended up arriving late and we had to listen to a sexist sailor sermon (today considered regrettable) from the lieutenant in charge of the GMs, in front of the entire crew (at the time there were no women in the armed forces):

“Delays are not tolerated in the navy. However, I'm not going to punish the GM because the reason is a woman and the guy was off the hook(*1). I was there at the fado house and saw the GM make up his mind with the first one who looked at him without wasting time choosing the prettiest one. In the navy and in life, we have to be fast, because the boat is always passing by. Ten out of ten for the GM”. At the time it sounded funny and part of sailor folklore, but it was already debatable. Imagine today (2019), a Lieutenant saying this to a GM who arrives late. You can appreciate the ridicule. (*1) safo is a navy slang word, perhaps the most used, both as a verb, as an adjective, and as an interjection. For example: “get a safo to get away with that” (get a skilled person to solve that) or else “ele que se safe” (let him manage). Nothing to do with civilian use: naughty. On the contrary, the "safos" are highly valued.

Miguel Fernández y Fernández, consulting engineer and columnist, Written in Sep2019 (8,183 characters & spaces)

535 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

Muchos Padres

The UN sponsored excellent postgraduate courses at the Instituto de Hidrologia de Madrid, which was directed by eng. Rafael Heras, and occupies a beautiful building with modern architecture, next to t

My Beetles Talking

The first car at home was a 1961 Beetle, the color of wet brick (ceramic?), bought by my father without telling anyone: surprise. I was 14 years old, the age of my oldest grandchild today. What a joy!

1 Comment

Mar 12, 2021

Parabéns. Não conhecia seu blog. ⚓️⚓️

bottom of page