Monthly Archives: March 2010

Welcome To The City! Don’t Trip As You Get Off The Gravy Train.

Here is the scenario.  You are enjoying an afternoon gathering of family and friends in the galería of your family’s house. As you begin to catch the soft tropical breeze, someone out of the blue will say:  “¡Diaaaaache! En ningún otro país se vive así.  Mira lo bien que estamos nosotros en tranquilidad full, bebiéndonos una fría. A que tú no haces eso allá.”

The presence of Dominican-Yorks triggers Islanders to bash The City for no reason other than to prove that they are better than us.  The minute they learn that visitors from los países are present, a loghorrea of how wonderful the Island is immediately ensues.  Islanders have an obsessive and incessant need to make useless comparisons between The City and The Island. This zealous underscoring of Island life safeguards the real reason why Islanders berate our City, and that is the resentment they feel when all privileges cease to exist upon landing in NYC.

Islanders thrive on getting the so-called VIP treatment.  They have deluded themselves into believing that they are entitled to better service than anyone else, and if by golly they deem it as inferior than expected, they will either (1) be in a complete uproar and go on a very public and visible rant, or (2) engage in hard-core mueleo (see March 18) to demand the superb treatment considered as rightfully theirs.  (This kind of mueleo usually involves stating a prominent last name, or asserting they know a coronel or teniente).

During one of my many visits, someone told me how much he hates NYC because “¿Tú sabes lo que es eso? Que tratan a uno así tirao, a lo foque. ¡Jesú dios! Ni loco voy pa’ llá. ¿A buscar qué? Si aquí yo soy un rey.”  To what I responded, “Ah bueno… tú lo que quieres es que traten como los Vanderbilts sin serlo.”  Thus, what makes Islanders upset about The City is that there is no such thing as a cafecito while waiting for the next bank teller, or colarse to the front of the line because they know Don Fulano.

Now, I will not argue against the notion that there is privilege everywhere in the world. But in The City that never sleeps, every hard earned dollar counts, no matter what pocket it came from.  And while one cannot expect the red carpet treatment at a greasy spoon diner, rest assured that at  21 Club your libation will be shaken with the same verve as the one ordered by the bonus-touting suit from Goldman-Sachs sitting next to you, because your twenty-dollar bill has the same portrait of Jackson as hers.  Here, unless you are willing to shed three hundred dollars for a bottle at the club, your ass will be standing in line like the rest of us plebs, and when you think you deserve to colarte because you are sporting Diesel Jeans bought at Acropolis, wake up and smell the starbucks, so is everybody else.

As I close, I must take you back to the beginning of this entry, my fellow Yorkies.   If you find yourself  becoming increasingly infuriated about the unsolicited bashing of our City, I guarantee that upon saying ¡salud! and before the brain freeze from la fría kicks in,  someone a little bit more real (while struggling to turn on la planta o el inversor) will respond  “¿Tú sabes que atracaron al hijo de perensejo saliendo del súper a la hora de las doce y le robaron el celular?”

Justice has been served on the rocks.

It’s Not Lying Per Se

On The Island, act of lying has its own continuum that spans from shameless Pinocchio style deceit, to what I call the exaggeration of a questionable answer.  In more colloquial terms,  this is known as: el mueleo.

Two parts bullshit and one part persuasive discourse; el mueleo is an art form in it of itself.  I advise the inexperienced not to dismiss it as moment when Islanders seem eager to please or supremely interested in your propositions, for it is a buffer to avoid telling the truth.

El mueleo bifurcates itself into two types: (1) overly positive, at times long-winded  and overwhelmingly enthusiastic responses, or (2) a brief and evasive answer given when it does not behoove the Islander to tell the truth.

El mueleo also has three important terrains: romance, employment or investment opportunities, and social settings.  While the latter two will be discussed, the first one I leave for another entry. In order to illustrate a clear picture of full-throttle mueleo, examples including appropriate translations will be provided.

As far as employment goes, most of my fellow Yorkies (another name given to us by Islanders), say that by the time their City job interview is over, they have negotiated a $30k raise, a full vacation package and personal days, a company car, and a hefty expense account. All through the right (not the art) of asking questions before closing the deal. Thus, the standard issues that the average person is entitled to inquire about in The City seem near taboo topics on The Island. You think a gal with a classic New York City style negotiating ability has nothing on el mueleo.  Well, I will admit that my skills were put to shame as I tried to haggle (ahem) discuss the preliminaries of an offer while living on The Island:

Me:  ¿Cuánto me van a pagar?
Them: Bueno, tu sabe’ que estamos comenzado y somos una compañía nueva pero hay que ver cuáles directrices vamos a tomar para poder ajustar una tabla salarial adecuada.
Translation: Don’t expect much.

Me: Y, ¿Cuántos días de vacaciones me tocan?
Them: No porque tu sabe’…que lo que se mira es el trabajo del empleado, su capacidad profesional….y el aporte que hace al crecimiento y desarrollo del equipo de la compañía.
Translation: You have no right to get sick, except when taking a medical leave.

Of course, you need not to worry about all this is you are a blonde, blue-eyed European or American. Islanders will worship you, for you are the Aryan prize that will make their establishments look good.  A business full of blue-eyed blondes will prompt Islanders to say: Ese lugar es buenísimo. Hay mucha gente de (insert Swedish-type country here).  Cute foreign accents are another hot commodity, but on only second to the aforementioned. Hence, it is no surprise that an illiterate blue-eyed blonde foreigner will get hired with a luxe salary and benefits, way before a Dominican Newyorker with a Ph.D. from Harvard does. (More on Islanders and foreigners in another entry).

So in order to save you trouble my fellow Yorkies, here are other examples of mueleo with settings and translations, respectively.

At a bar
Me:  ¿Saben preparar un martini?
Them:  ¡Oh…pero claaaaaaaaaro!  (Translantion: I’ve never heard of a martini)

On vacation
Me: No quiero ir a playa tal porque aun no está totalmente acondicionada.
Them: ¡Adió pero eso ha cambiado muchííííísimo!
(Translation: It hasn’t changed a bit. I just like contradicting Dominicans from NYC)

Requesting payment
Me: Necesito que me remitas el pago que me debes.
Them: ¡Ay…Pero yo no sabía!
(Translation: I did know, but I was aiming for you to forget about it).

1.  It is a travesty that the only time I was able to savor a real dirty martini on The Island was at a friend’s house that knows the art of fixing this amazing three-ingredient concoction.  Reminder: if the drink requires a shaker, I advise you not to order it.

2.  I visit The Island twice a year, and I have yet to witness el cambio tan grande que ha dado.  Reminder: Always agree with Islanders about the changes. It makes them believe they have won the argument.

3.  Negotiations with Islanders should be handled on a same-day-cash-in-hand basis.
Reminder: Nunca Fiar.


Life On Two Islands

If you are like me, you are a New Yorker with Dominican parents.  You grew up on two islands,  one you currently call home, and the other you have dysfunctional relationship with.

You were probably born in The City.   Your parents, sometime in your childhood, moved the family to The Island because someone promised them an opportunity of a lifetime. But upon arrival, somehow, somewhere between unpacking la mudanza and your high school graduation, something happens to someone and the plans to live the Dominican Dream fail to come to fruition.

Nowadays you have a vaivén with The Island.  You get on a plane because The Island has a gravitational force that pulls you any time you have the opportunity to travel.  Yet, no sooner you land at AILA you are ready to head back home.

When on The Island, you stroll around frequently feeling the gape of its people trickling down your back. If you suspect they are judging you, rest assured…they are. The opinions run the gamut from the color of your nail polish, (Ballerina Pink: Good, Gothic Burgundy: Bad) to living with your boyfriend (very bad), or living alone (extremely bad).

I have a true necessity of contributing my thoughts on thirteen years of Island life, plus the annual twenty days I spend thereafter when I decided to relocate to The City for good. It is a conflicting and complex relationship the one I have with The Island. On one hand I love getting away from The City (You must have already noticed that I make the distinction between The Island=there, and The City=here) to visit my friends and family, especially during the winter when I get to soak up the year-round 85ºF weather.  However I find myself having little tolerance for The Islanders’ quirks, which is topic of discussion for this blog.

For now, allow me to preface the conversation by saying that all that will be covered may well pertain to few, some, none, or perhaps all Islanders.  But if for some reason, as you read my entries you find yourself nodding in agreement or bristling with discomfort, signs point that you are either like me or like them.

On the other hand, you might be  a happy bystander being entertained by the thoughts of a Dominican chick, shaken with a twist.