Here we are staying at the Copacabana Palace Hotel for the second time in two weeks and I hadn?t had the time to even cross the road and visit this famous patch of sand which Barry Manilow eulogized about so eloquently. Out of deference to one of the greatest living American singer-songwriter / sweater wearers I felt that we had to stop working for a moment and a stroll was in order.
Nina (producer), Chris (AD), Daniel (DP), Eric (exec producer) and I picked a sand-side refreshment booth and ordered some chilled libations. Within moments the first of many hawkers visited us with their wares – though as it turned out these ones were quite unique: two girls with painted faces and hairy legs who were part of a musical theatre group raising money for their troupe to visit kids with Aids and provide entertainment – they had even printed up cards in the usual languages (French, German, Spanish, English etc.) to tell people what they were up to.
Being film-makers, i.e. self-involved skinflints, we shrugged our shoulders as if we didn?t speak any of the above languages (and let?s face it with 2 Yanks, 2 Brits and an Aussie, 3 nationalities with dreadful reputations for grasping foreign tongues, we weren?t telling too much of a fib) and Nina pretended we only spoke Japanese. Strangely this cunning subterfuge was remarkable for its complete lack of success and soon we were each being handed cards full of useful information about our star signs…in Portuguese!
I am an Aries. The bad news is I am supposedly Impulsivo, Imprudente, Agressivo and Extrovertido: not looking too good is it? But luckily I am also Instintivo, Intuitivo, Sincero and Voluntarioso. But I am also Batalhador. This worried me a lot and I had to finish my drink and return to my room pronto (not an English word but I understand what it means) to look up Batalhador in my pocket sized Langenscheidt?s Universal Dictionary – Portuguese (attractively priced at $7.95 from Borders and in a travel-friendly yellow plastic cover). As I scurried along the beach I wondered what it could mean. ?Batal? obviously referred to some kind of war-like activity involving the lopping off of limbs and other extremities with sharp cutlasses that flashed in the rain with Mel Gibson nearby in a kilt…he had a painted face and hairy legs too just like the girls from the theatre group, I was starting to see a pattern developing. ?Hador? had me stumped. As I climbed into the lift (elevator in American – you see my grasp of languages isn?t THAT bad) I decided a Hador was some kind of hat or protective head gear. I therefore concluded that subtly hidden amongst the list of revealing Arian personality traits was a suggestion that I should be wandering the streets wearing a crash helmet.
My luck was out. I?d saved cash on the purchase of the dictionary and my luggage was lighter for its compactness but Batalhador was nowhere to be found. Then I had a breakthrough. I?d studied Latin at school (I got the lowest grade possible) and lived in Germany as a child and as a teen and so I knew that some foreign languages like to combine shorter words to make bigger more complex ones. We even do it in English: quarterpounder, asswipe, buttmunch, dickhead etc. Perhaps Batalhador was compounded from more than one word?
I?d struck gold. I soon discovered that a ?Batel? is a skiff – which as we all know is some form of small sailing vessel often mentioned in Hornblower books. OK so I was looking for ?Batal? but they didn?t have that either. ?Hador? is likewise absent…but ?dor? means grief!
I?d figured it out: the card held a possible warning about my future: I will come to grief in some kind of boating accident involving a skiff!
If any of you out there speak Portuguese perhaps you could confirm this for me. I don?t have any boating trips planned for the near future but I?d like to know if I should stay clear of the water.
Oh yes, and another thing. If an Aries falls in love with a Balanca (which my dictionary reliably informs me is a scales, balance, swing or rock) I should apparently expect ?uniao ideal, inclusive sexualmente!? Now call me overly optimistic but this has to mean ?a perfect union with sex included.? If you could confirm this or even better provide me with the phone numbers of any attractive single Balancas (Portuguese, Brazilian or otherwise) you might know, I would be most grateful.
P.S. I gave the girls 2 rials.