There’s a time to play. And there’s a time to stop. That line you cross when you’re no longer laughing with someone, but laughing at them. When it stops being funny, and turns into something kind of offensive. Now, tampoco soy nigún santo, so my philosophy has always been that in small doses a little fun at someone else’s expense can be pretty harmless, even a little fun. Okay, a lot of fun! Unless they find out about it, and then, well, you’re pretty much on your own… left to save face as best you can, or in the worst of cases, to save your own face from una buena cachetada.
My parents called it being burlista, burlon, burlona. Someone who criticized and poked fun at everyone around them all of the time for no specific reason… sort of as an addicting out-of-control-hobby. For this gente snickers, whispers and dirty looks were the main forms of communication they employed to get their points across. That is when they weren’t running there mouths. And boy did they like running their mouths. It was always fulanita de tal or fulanito quién sabe quién who were at the tip of there tongues awaiting to be the topics of endless conversation, from this sentence to that sentence, then a couple of dozen more after that first pair. For a child as metiche as me, it was my entertainment.
I’d even venture to say a very important part of my education… or miseducation, however you choose to look at it. Not only did these exchanges keep me informed of pretty juicy details about everyone around me, but they also allowed me to hone my skills as an observer on life. I would have made an excellent sociologist! Too bad I decided against this major in college. Besides, all of those memories of me and my younger brother mimicking other people, arremedandoles en todo, cracking ourselves up until we were at the point of falling off the bed, crying from laughing so hard, or almost about to pee in our pants, are priceless. He was like one of those celebrity impersonators on Sábado Gigante or Siempre en Domingo in those days. Now, we can’t ever get him to do one of his characters anymore. I’ve cut back a pretty great deal myself.
It’s not that we grew out of it. We just figured out it was in our own best personal interest to keep our burlas to ourselves. Every once in a while, though, we still give each other that look and smile.
We know what we’re laughing about!
The bonus: now there are so many other people who understand our silent exchanges también, which either means they are experienced burlistas themselves, or they have managed to somehow crack our “highly top secret” code of glances and giggles. Just remember, in small doses people!