Telenovelas: ?íCuidado! They May Be Habit Forming

Los trapitos de mi familia: our family's dirty little secret

By Guadalupe Gonzalez
Published on LatinoLA: July 5, 2011

Telenovelas: <i>?íCuidado!</i> They May Be Habit Forming

I call my Mom everyday, to see how she is doing, what she is up to, if she has been out shopping and scored anything new. I call her for advice, I call her for laughter, I can her to share my concerns and maybe a little lloradita.

So one day a couple of weeks ago. I was in the middle of a fairly sedate conversation, talking about the things Mamacita and I have during the chisme throwdown. All of a sudden, my Mom blurts out, "Ya la mataron!!" (They have killed her!!) She did not just whisper it, or say it in a conversational tone. Mama yelled it--but, like a drink, with a twist of limoncito at the end.

About 45 minutes away from her, I freaked out. So many things raced through my head: A home invasion robbery! Some nut wanted her collection of anjelitos. Or a barricade situation! My sister-in-law's 4 pound dog, named "Hercules", had finally caused someone to go over the edge. Or maybe it was like that Jimmie Stewart movie, "Rear Window". My Mom had been peeking into the neighbor's house and witnessed a crime!

"Mama! Should I call 911? Who was killed? Just say yes and I'll call the police inmediatamente!" No answer. "Mama! Mama!" "Que, mi hijita?", she asked in a normal tone. So I asked again? Hostage? Should I call 911, police, who had been killed? "Ay, I'm watching my novela and you called at the most exciting part. One of the main characters just got killed."

This is NOT the first time my Mom's attention has wandered. I know I could tell her mi querido went to get the mail and a huge camion careened over him and left him a "Flat Stanley." Just like in the children's books. And my Mama would say, "Ay, que bueno, mi hijita." I know that once, my sister told our Mama that my sister's house was on fire, and my Mom said, "Que gusto me da." Novela-Time!!

Now you know the dirty laundry, los trapitos, of my family: Mi Mama watches telenovelas. Where all the wealthy women wear at least $50,000 worth of jewelry for breakfast at home and totter about in their tacones, barking out orders and fainting on strategically-placed sofas. And there are a lot of people saying, "?í?íCanalla!!", whatever that is, with pained looks directed at the camera. Then there is the inevitable paternity issue involving a "secretly" pregnant stick thin girl that looks like an ad for a weight loss program.

I, too, once had to be glued to the TV, watching Padre Alberto giving romantic advice to a girl who had a number of novios. The show's premise was that the girl's mother and brother, along with el Padrecito, would help her select the most appropriate mate. Okay, at least I had an excuse. COME ON--IT WAS PADRE ALBERTO!! Fortunately, I did not have to go to telenovela rehab. I went cold turkey. Ya, basta con todo eso! I did, however, wait until the girl went against her Mami, her vaquero brother and pobre Padre Alberto and picked her man. And then, no mas!

Now, my life is my own. I can have dinner with my husband, play with the doggies, pick roses or just stare at the passing clouds (or is it smog?), oh well, nevermind, I can do as I want. I am no longer tied to figuring out paternity issues, wondering why someone called someone else "?íCanalla!" and what "?íCanalla!" means. Why people are giving each other long, languid ojitos, often when they are kissing someone else. I am free!

Now, if I could only talk to my Mama again...I'll tell you how the intervention goes.

About Guadalupe Gonzalez:
Los Angeles Attorney, Writer, Shopper Extraordinaire and Chismosa

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