Puppets as a Cure for Obscenities / Dora Leonor Mesa

You might hear two young Cubans in Havana talking about updating the Karspersky. Do not believe it is about an antivirus. They’re probably talking about sex. Colloquial vocabulary can be fun among young and profane ears, but to use obscene words within the hearing of children, being unable to use other, nicer, expressions, is, in my view, deplorable.

On one occasion ex-president Fidel Castro publicly used high-caliber obscenities to describe strength and patriotism. He explained in a speech to the Cuban people his version — including emotional details of language and messages used in the maneuver — of the unfortunate incident of the downed aircraft, that is those Brothers to the Rescue planes which rescued desperate Cubans shipwrecked at sea.

We had a foreign minister, Mr. Raul Roa, whom many applauded for his “quixotic” outbursts in the presence of diplomats and United Nations ambassadors, not to mention protocol events where his “spontaneity” was historic.

Now in Cuba obscene and vulgar vocabulary is part of many families. I would say a little more so than justified raw nationalism, accompanied by regaetton such as the “Chupi Chupi” song, and scandalous bands from all over, and that we might have the dubious privilege of being the Latin American country with the largest variety of vulgarities in active use in the language. I dare not criticize the music because I like regaetton, in fact, my phone’s message tone is a reggaeton song from a group called Crazy Kola.

How do we teach parents and children what is vulgar and socially rejected? Puppets, homemade puppets crafted by an artisan. Puppets achieve what many are unable to resolve. The simplest is the puppet glove or mitten that fits over the hand of the puppeteer and is manipulated with the fingers.

Never one to miss a trick, I put puppets on the hands of the boys and girls, one named “Badtalker” and the other with whatever normal and amusing name the little puppeteer wanted. There was a third puppet that we left for them to use as they pleased. The vulgarities appeared only during the “work” and we took advantage of that to challenge them to substitute good examples. We also looked for other words that are derogatory and in bad taste. A great deal of laughter and education. Flowers among the thorns.

January 22 2012