Author Archives: Melissa Mendes

“You guys have it easy”

According to my source, in the marine core, whenever the senior group is about to graduate, they tell the new recruits who’ve just come in that they are having a much easier time than the ones graduating. Depending on who’s in charge and the current politics, it actually does fluctuate in difficulty, but the graduating class always tells the newer recruits this even if it’s slightly untrue. Regardless, there’s no such thing as easy marine core boot camp. According to my source, it’s so difficult that half the guys don’t make it to graduation.

My source heard this when he was beginning his training when he was in his 20s, and says that the men who do it do so to make themselves feel better and make the new group feel like they’re not as tough as older ones are. He claims that it’s human nature to want to think that you’re better and stronger than the next guy coming through. It may also be that intimidating the new trainees into wanting to be better and stronger than the group before them is both a sort of initiation ritual and a way to sort of inspire the new recruits.

I’ve personally seen this sort of thing in junior high and high school regarding certain classes and P.E., so it’s definitely seen outside of this setting and can apply towards different situations.

I care three cucumbers

“Me importa tres pepinos”

English:

I care three cucumbers.

This is another saying with agricultural reference in cuban foklore, the meaning of which is that the speaker simply doesn’t care. A similar American saying would be “I don’t give a shit,” or I don’t give a rat’s ass,” only less vulgar. My informant tells me that cucumbers were generally very inexpensive when she was living in cuba when she was growing up there.

 

They got their money’s worth

“Me sacaron el kilo”

English:

They took the penny out of me.

This saying is akin to the American saying “They worked me to the bone.” It’s more or less saying that the employers got their money’s worth out of the employee and that the employee is exhausted. My informant is a cuban resident who has lived in the U.S. since she was a baby, but has many family members from whom she has picked up sayings such as these from. As the majority of her relatives all have backgrounds as field workers and maids, it makes sense that this saying has been passed down in the family.

 

Gift Horse

“A caballo “regalao” no se le mira el colmillo”

English:

Don’t look at the fang of the horse that’s free.

This cuban proverb is very similar to the American saying “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” It’s very likely that it made its way over to cuba and got muddled along in translation. My informant is a cuban resident who has lived in the U.S. since she was a baby, but has many family members from whom she has picked up sayings such as these from. As the majority of her relatives all have backgrounds as field workers and maids, she informs me that she grew up fairly poor and was taught more or less not to question it when good things came her way lest they be taken away. It was considered bad luck and bad manners to be skeptical of gifts freely given.

I don’t believe it

“A otro perro con ese hueso”

English:

To another dog, with that bone

This cuban saying is inferring that the speaker doesn’t believe whatever the listener has said. It’s more or less saying that the listener ought to try telling their story or lie to someone else more likely to believe it. My informant heard this when she was younger and got in trouble for lying about going somewhere. Her mother, a cuban immigrant, replied with this metaphor.