November 04, 2005

Cha Cha Cha in the Rain

Aside from a long, complex history that includes centuries of struggle for independence and identity, one of the traits that define Cubans of all shapes, sizes and hyphenations is our odd and often bizarre sense of humor. It’s not just that humor pops up at inopportune times, but that even the most outrageous situation can be seen from a humorous point of view.

Case in point. Two Cuban rebels (one white, the other a freed slave) in the Ten Year War (1868-78) are trapped in a battle they can’t win against a much larger Spanish force. They’ve stayed behind to cover an escape route for other Mambises (this is what the rebels were called). One of them says, “We’re not going to make it out of here!” The other responds, “That’s ok. They’re cooking red beans again tonight.” The first soldier breathes a sigh of relief, “Oh.” Shortly thereafter, they both die in battle. The rest of the Mambises are able to escape into the jungle, but once they return to camp each is served a plate of red beans.

Gene Kelley sang in the rain to celebrate his newfound feelings of love for beautiful Debbie Reynolds. She made him feel alive and renewed, full of life and energy. (She still has that effect on me when I think of her in this role.)

Cubans sing and dance in the rain to celebrate that the rain will eventually stop. That’s how they survived 400 years as a colony, 60 years as a pseudo-colony and forty-six years as a communist state.



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