Author Archives: Melissa Mendes

El Mamey

“Iva por un caminito y me encontre un barilito, le meti el dedito y me salio coloradito. Que es?”


I was going down a road & I found a small little barrel, I stuck my finger in it and it came out red. What is it?

Answer: El Mamey ( A fruit with a brown rind and an orange-red center)

This cuban riddle (dichos) is one based on agriculture, as much of their folklore is. Their culture is very much crop-based, so this is logical. My informant, having been raised as a field worker in cuba, knows many of these riddles and sayings.


“Alright, so an airplane is about to crash and there are four people on board, George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton, and a school girl that had won a contest to meet the president, and the pilot. There are only 3 parachutes. The pilots says screw you all I wanna live and jumps out so that only leaves two left. Hillary says “I’m gonna run this county some day so I need to live!” and jumps out. George Bush Says to the girl “I’ve lived a long life and I’ve done all the things I’d set out to do, but you have your whole life ahead of you. You take the last one, little girl.” The little girl shakes her head and says “No, it’s okay. We can both go. The smartest lady in the world just jumped out with my backpack!””

This joke, told to me by a republican, is a clear crack at the democratic party and one of many originating from when George. W. Bush was in office. However, this one is different because it actually paints him in a flattering light. His willingness to sacrifice himself for the child and Hilary Clinton’s clear disregard for anyone’s saftey but her own speaks volumes towards what the republicans are trying to present their natures to be.

I found it slightly odd that my informant, who is a Mexican American and was raised poor is a proud republican, but he assured me that it all had to do with his own thoughts on governmental policy towards small businesses, one of which he had come to own through his own hard work and ingenuity. He is an avid watcher of political shows and always follows each campaign closely to see how it will affect his family, and by extension, his business.

Hanged Man on Halloween

When my informant was younger, she was told a story by her brother that he had apparently heard in school. It was an urban legend about a young man who had hung himself a night before Halloween in a tree in a nearby neighborhood. Apparently, since it was Halloween nobody took the body seriously, believing to be just another gruesome prop. A few days later people realized it wasn’t a prop thanks to both the smell and the birds coming to eat away at his body.

This legend is fairly disconcerting to my informant, who believes this legend to be real. When she had asked her father if it was real, he had replied in the positive, citing his cousin as a source. Apparently the boy it had happened to was the son of a distant relative. This story may or may not be true.

This story seems like a warning against complacency for a holiday that has become a mockery of what it used to be and still is for some people. The fear that some props used on this night may actually be flesh and blood instead of plastic and paint is deep seated in superstition, and that is why so many people really do get a good fright from haunted houses and the like.

It could also be seen as a warning against suicide, as the boy didn’t recieve a particularly pleasant death and his body was desecrated by the local wildlife and exposed to the elements for quite some time.

This story seems to hold a particular significance for my informant, who has told me previously that her best friend attempted to commit suicide when they were much younger, and that to this day he lies in a coma as a result.

Prince Charles and Princess Di

Q:Why does Prince Charles have a coloured knob?

A: He kept sticking it in Di.

My informant, who grew up in the 80s, was lucky enough to be around when Prince Charles and Princess Di were still alive and well. Thus, when this joke began to circulate, one could guess that even though it’s fairly tasteless, it was still somewhat acceptable. Now it has become even more tasteless and bordering on insulting since the princess’s death. That doesn’t stop anyone from laughing at it though. These Princesss Di jokes have definitely died down in the past few years, with much of the new generation not even sure who Princess Di was. Thus, this joke is generally only used when in a specific age range.

Mechanicaly speaking, the metaphor is a simple play on words with Di replacing dye.


Aim High

“Tu no vas a cojer mangos bajito”


You will not grab the mangos when you’re down low.

This metaphor is basically telling the listener that they must aim high in order to reap the benefits of labor. As my informant was a cuban immigrant who was raised by other cuban immigrants from whom she heard this saying from, this metaphor is appropriate in that not only does it make an agricultural reference when the majority of her family were once field workers, but also refers to the ideal that hard work leads to wonderful rewards. According to my informant, this ideal is one of the main reasons they risked life and limb to come to America in the first place.