1. The new spelling agreement
Or the so-called acordo ortográfico. Although it was approved in 1990, it’s only been five years since the whole country started spelling the words our parents taught us unnaturally. Nowadays, every time we see these old words written in new ways, we curse the skies and wonder what Camões would have to say about this blasphemy. I mean don’t take me wrong, but if this was an ‘agreement,’ shouldn’t we agree too?
Surely our Politicians are aware that when they change the spelling of “facto” (fact) to fato (suit), they’re only going to increase our rate of dyslexia.
Maybe you’re wondering, who in the world likes politicians? Or if politicians even like themselves. Do they have friends outside the political sphere? How often do they have therapy and does insomnia creep in at night to haunt them every time their decisions cause hundreds to lose their jobs?
We all might wonder these things, but in Portugal, we are sure our politicians lie more and cheat more than anywhere else. If these politicians lived in a ‘civilized country’ where they actually had to show results to win elections, instead of just bragging their way through them, they’d probably all be driving buses instead.
We dream of a country where Politicians represent our needs, use Carris to go to work, live on the minimum wage and eat in the same tascas. If we were really lucky, they’d dream the same dreams as us and believe in them enough to help us turn them all into reality. However, if we ever do find that magical politician, we’ll still never vote for them. Instead of cutting off the amount of complaints in the coffee shops, it would increase suspicion. You know how it goes, “Se a esmola é demasiado grande…”
It’s not them, it’s their language! If we can understand them, why can’t they understand us? If we can turn and twist our tongue in weird ways, try to roll the ‘r’ the other way around and speak Portunhol when they come over, why can’t Spanish-speakers speak “Espanhês?” Why do they get to just decide that they don’t understand us? They can get away with “de nada” and “por favor” but it’s really not that hard to replace “gracias” with “obrigado”, okay? They can be “nuestros hermanos” in Spain, but on this side of the border, we want to call them “nossos irmãos.”
4. Cristiano Ronaldo
Yeah, the selfish brat who often forgets there are another 10 players running around the football field. Who opened his own museum in Madeira. Who destroys Ferraris for fun and earns more money than most people in the country ever will in an entire lifetime? Nonetheless, he is the golden son of Portugal, and he does occasionally help others in some grand gesture of kindness, turning himself into the demystified personification of the humble kid who grew up to have it all — by chance, destiny or divine intervention. Who else could we love to hate this much?
The doctor says we should eat queijo da serra only on special occasions. Chouriço, farinheira, morcela, and mortandela are out of bounds though. And eating Arroz de Marisco is a sin for the cholesterol Gods. It seems that the delicious Portuguese traditional cuisine lives on the edge of what we love the most and what will keep the doctors in our business. We could even add ‘hypertension and diabetes’ to our love to hate list, but we will leave the effects of strong coffee, sardines and impressive bakeries right where they belong: in our bellies. After all, why would God give the world the gift of Portuguese cuisine if we were meant to forget about listening to our médicos de família?
6. Música Pimba
Or ‘Popular Portuguese Music.’ Emanuel baptized it, but this didn’t increase our love for it. We would never play it out of our own will, and when it is broadcasted on the radio we are quick to switch it off. Hopefully no one will suspect us of being one of those people. But when cold weather goes away, summer kicks in and the festivities fill the main squares of every small town, the women and children start dancing to the beat and we’ll find ourselves singing along, “Se elas querem um abraço ou um beijinho…”
We just hate them. Paying portagens?! Who the hell came up with the idea of motorway privatization?! Every time we’re driving along and the little boot appears, we frown. It’s time to slow down and get the money out. To make it even worse, they’ve replaced the nice friendly toll lady with an automated machine — yes, we know she hated working there too — but at least we got a smile. Why, oh why can’t we all have a low-cost Via Verde?
Since the Brazilians brought us Gabriela, we’ve spent a lot of time investing in the Portuguese soap opera business. Men often complain that their wives spend every evening in front of the TV, claiming they’d never know the entire plot by heart if they weren’t married. But women claim, their husbands are just as into the plot as they are. So, the final identities of the average 1.4 million Portuguese who were hooked on Mar Salgado and Sol de Inverno when SIC broadcasted them, still remain a mystery.
9. Football managers
Mourinho doesn’t know what he is doing, Queiroz ought to go home, and Santos should just sit beside the spectators and let us do their jobs. At least we’d get a chance at being hated too.
Yes, we love to hate our politicians, roads, health care, soaps, and popular music. We love to hate especially what we fear could be ridiculous to outsiders. We’re constantly reminded by our fellow Portuguese friends that we have to wake up for the jobs we wish we liked, we have to look at the bosses who we wish got laid more so they’d screw us less; we love to hate all this. But if we were to indeed leave the Portuguese mountains, cliffs, and shores behind, we’d just hear the voice of Mariza singing “Ó Gente da Minha Terra” calling us back. We might love to hate our own country, but we’d hate even more to miss it.