Nationality: Mexican American
Residence: Riverside, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/21/2015
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Spanish
SC: Whenever me or my siblings would act up, the nearest authority figure would say, “You better calm down or I’ll call the cucuy.” This happened often in the car, and my parents would knock on the windows. (Informant knocks on the table)
“YOU HEAR THAT? THE CUCUY’S COMING!” And I’d be all “…fffff.” Y-yeah. Didn’t spook me at all. Wasn’t like I thought I actually was going to get abducted when no one was looking.
Me: What’s a cucuy?
SC: It’s basically a Mexican boogeyman. Are you asking what I thought it looked like? Probably seven feet tall, ratty moss-green fur, bloodshot yellow eyes. Craggly coffee stained teeth. Like a giant baboon that lived in a sewer all its life.
The cucuy is also sometimes called the coco in Portugal and el cuco in Latin America, and the Coco Man in Hispanic communities in the states. Its appearance is different in each culture, ranging from a pumpkin-headed ghost to an anthropomorphic alligator. This legend is referenced in the last chapter of Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, in which Don Quixote is referred to by this title on his epitaph.