In Cuba it’s the bad word composed of the letters “pee, ar, i, cee, and kay” with which the masculine sexual organ is defined, and it’s become as common as the surnames Rodríguez, Valdés, Pérez or Hernández, and more well known than a salsa or reggaeton group of proven popularity. If we stamp our feet, it flows from the frustration of tens, dozens, hundreds and thousand; from the craziness we feel sentenced to a life in tune with the same radio soap opera, performed by the same actors, as is we have deliberately broken the radio dial to force ourselves to listen, for more than fifty years, to the same program.
Thus, the abused word spread and became so common that it’s become an interjection. Until the ’70s it was an expression used by certain social classes. The prejudiced popular stereotypes assigned it to the tenements of Old Havana, Central Havana and other so-called marginal neighborhoods.
I remember a few years ago that people looked askance at its use in the street–usually in a loud voice–and even more so if it was said by a woman. Today it has become so common that it seems strange when you don’t hear it. It’s embedded in our daily hearing and speaking and used to affirm something or someone positive as well as the complete opposite. It’s a heavyweight curse that expresses very well either discontent or pleasure, and that is stacked with others, similar, such as “you bet your f**kin’ a**,” in a popularization of the political-social machismo that still exists in Cuba.
Translated by Ariana
May 2 2011