We get into the car. It’s about 100 degrees and humid.
“Ay, carajo, it’s hot!”
And then, I realize. We’ve been listening to the soundtrack from the musical, In the Heights — love and hope in Latino Washington Heights. The line my kid so expertly and correctly gave me from the back seat comes from the song “Paciencia y Fe” and sung by an elderly Cuban abuela.
I go into a nervous laugh. I explain that “carajo” is not the most polite word. It means “damn,” which we don’t use, alright beba?
But, I tell her the truth: Her Cubans use it a lot. Hell, if we lived in Miami, she would learn that her relatives use it at least a dozen-and-a-half times a day, for emphasis, for cursing, even for expressing delight. Her people carajo, carajo, carajo all.the.time.
But little girls in Tennessee, and even in Miami, aren’t supposed to use carajo.
Unless they’re singing an award-winning song of patience and faith in their very own kitchen.
Too bad, really. Because, carajo, she sounded so cute when she said it out of the blue, and oh so appropriately. Porque de verdad hay un calor del carajo here right now.
Calor! Calor! Calor!
The opening lyrics of Paciencia y Fe, from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s wonderful play, which we saw in Nashville this year.
Calor! Calor! Calor! Calor! Calor! Calor! Ay Mama! The summer’s hottest day Paciencia y fe Paciencia y fe Ay carajo, it’s hot! But that’s okay Mama would say, “Paciencia y fe”
And the delightful Carnaval del Barrio, which we sing on a daily basis. We especially love to sing the line: Since when are Latin people scared of heat? And we get really, really loud when it is time to alza la bandera.