I did mention in a previous post that I love staying in… it’s a habit that has grown on me, now I just can’t shake it off. This little habit brought with it another wont: watching soaps. My memory’s awash with all the soaps I’ve been watching since forever… it is there that I met Austin Reed and Juan Pablo, his Mexican counterpart. He is a noble man, born with a silver spoon in his mouth, who doesn’t discriminate against anyone. He mingles with the affluent and underprivileged alike. I was also introduced to Paula- Juan’s old flame- who would do just about anything to keep him all for herself. Forget not, that Juan already showed her the door, but the thought of seeing him in the arms of another woman makes her cling on to him like a wet t-shirt.
Juan’s family tree is endowed with bountiful fruits; some mutated into nuts though; I met his malevolent mother; a self-righteous witch who has rendered old Juan a bachelor as she won’t consent to any of his relationships, alleging that his girlfriends are just out to suck every little penny out of them. The evidently wealthy girlfriends on the other hand aren’t graceful enough for a man of his son’s caliber. Sometimes she finds herself drawn to them but later finds out they were the real villains in the story.
In some soaps, telenovelas if you rather, Juanita happens to be the leading lady who every man wants to get a piece of. She’s acerbic in nature and only goes out with the men who will augment her empire. She perceives all her poor suitors as pure dirt, even though somehow, amidst the twists and turns, she ends up with one of them as she realizes money isn’t everything.
Then there’s the angelic Juanita. She was born dirt poor. More often than not she happens to be an orphan by design; she was separated from her parents by an old family friend who orchestrated a vendetta against them. She is a humble being who finds herself on the wrong side of the law every so often because she caught the eye of Alejandro, a self-proclaimed womanizer and the only son of an influential big gun.
Alejandro is mesmerized by her stunning beauty/personality. To his utter frustration he soon finds out that Juanita is a far cry from the other women he’s been with; she’s a respectable woman who isn’t fascinated by earthly riches; her dignity is all she has and would defend it with her life. Her goodness rubs off on Alejandro as he reforms into a strict monogamist. Alejandro’s family objects vehemently to his decision to marry Juanita but he stands up to them; he eventually marries her and they live happily ever after.
These Spanish characters are not from any soap in particular. It was my portrayal of characters as they have been painted in most of the soaps I’ve watched. The first time I watched a soap I was six or seven and ever since I’ve become a sucker for anything soap. Spanish soaps happen to be my favourite delicacy. I watched ‘Days of our lives’ for the better part of my teenage hood, until I realized it wasn’t going to end anytime soon…and ‘The bold and the beautiful’… the lure of the ‘PG 18’ disclaimer drove me insane as my parents wouldn’t let us (my sisters and I ) watch it; it was for adults. I had a really active imagination then. At my tender age I imagined all the possible scenarios that would make my parents so hell-bent on barring us from watching it…my mind would skip to nudity and moments of intense passion…my curiosity only heightened.
By the time I got to watch it, when I had ‘become legal’, I had already gotten used to Spanish soaps. Funny thing is when I finally got to watch it I couldn’t understand why they even had a PG 18 disclaimer then… based on the hype I’d built in my head, the show felt mundane… the most I saw were the basic kissing scenes, family members scheming against each other –I hate to admit it, but I see how such harmless pictures could corrupt a kid’s mind. I watched it for a while, loved it regardless but then I realized it was ‘incessant’…I didn’t have the patience to see who Brooke would end up with after all the bed-hopping, so I pulled the plug on that one too. That’s how I ended up with Alejandros and Juans exclusively.
I bet when they were shooting these soaps they had family time in mind because we watched them with my parents’ ‘blessings’… when we were away in school my mom would keep us updated… the only hurdle we had trouble jumping over was my dad; he HATES soaps. He’s never understood why we’d waste time watching them faithfully. In his opinion, soaps are harmful because one has to allot time for them, and the fact that they continue for a relatively long time turns people into slaves; he recommends movies which will only last for two hours tops. I bet that explains all the action movies we watched with him while growing up… can’t complain though, it was fun.
Over the years though, I’ve realized that the script is the same one, only with a different cast. The main male protagonist -Alejandro- happens to be a rich guy who falls for a poor girl. Occasionally the girl happens to be scarred physically but he’ll see past the physical deformities. Not even his parents’ objections and an ex-girlfriend’s ploys will keep him from her. They end up happily ever after.
Many guys have this misconception, that soaps are a girls’ thing; atleast that’s what they used to think back in the day. No guy would openly admit he ever watched them; nowadays they seem to be singing a different tune though-they watch them as much as any of my girlfriends and I would. Ironically, after years of watching them faithfully I’m slowly losing my interest. I’ve watched every conceivable version of the ‘happily ever after’ script.
On average I watch atleast three different soaps a day. That, needless to say, has given me a lot to compare and contrast; that is in respect to real life, and after years of investing my time and money in them I’ve made a few deductions: the perfidious aunts who would sell their nephews/nieces to the devil in exchange for a hefty sum of money do exist in real life;
The protagonist’s bestfriend (frenemy) who snatches her fiancé right from underneath her, or schemes to drive her and her family to bankruptcy also exists in real life.
The wicked mothers who drive their children’s partners away because they don’t belong to their social class, or have some physical deformities also exist in real life.
Alejandro, however, as I like to call him-the knight in shining armour; the guy who loves a woman unconditionally, regardless of how scarred her face is, how indigent and malodourous she is; the guy who loves his girl for real, not because he expects her to sleep with him or because he plans to get anything out of it, like winning a bet he had made with his sleazy friend(s); that guy who will move heaven and earth, go against all odds to fight for the love of his life, even if it meant giving up his family in exchange… that guy, Alejandro, Carlos, or Jorge or whatever fancy names they use, he doesn’t exist; he’s just a figment of our imagination; the guys we would have if there wasn’t so much proclivity for physical beauty in the world; if men didn’t measure beauty in terms of how big a woman’s posteriors are, or how voluptuous her ‘rack’ is, how evident her curves are… Alejandro is the guy who sees past all that; he sees inner beauty.
Just for the sake of not shelving this book before I’ve read the last page, I’ll leave room for a little doubt; maybe Alejandro does exist. There could only be a few of him left, but maybe he does exist…
The most important lesson that I’ve continually gathered from all the soaps I’ve watched, is that holding on to anger and harbouring grudges, only corrupts the soul; additionally, revenge is best left to God… He’ll even all the scores and leave one watching contentedly, without an ounce of guilt…