Sunday 28 April 2024

To Renounce the Fumcigar

   “To renounce the fumcigar,” says Pott, from the sawmill (fumo means “tobacco” in Portuguese), “is possible, but difficult, difficult. And one might fare like Matteus, up in the Camp district.”
   “What happened to him?” I asked politely.
   “He just smoked too much, day and night. And then a friend tells him, ‘You,’ he says, ‘if you put all that money that goes into smoke into the bank, you would be a rich man at the end of the year!’ ‘Right you are,’ says Matteus, throws charutos and cachimbos [cigars and pipes] away, and stops smoking. And sure enough, at the end of the year he has a lot of money. The second year more. Times were different then. The milreis was on the gold standard and worth as much each month as the month before. Before very long - may I fall dead if it isn't true - the man buys a papelão factory!”
   “Papelão? What's that?”
   “The stiff paper you make boxes of! They make it from wood.”
   “Yes, papelão. A nice factory. He left his colonia to the weeds and earned contos and contos [1 conto=1,000 cruzeiros]. Well, um dia de noite, one day in the evening, a friend invites him to a birthday party. And while they’re sitting there, eating and drinking and eating again, a rider gallops up shouting, ‘Hurry up! Your factory is afire!’ He jumps into his cart and speeds off at a breakneck pace! And when he gets there, what does he see? Just ashes and embers, and smoke - smoke everywhere. And there, on a still smoldering beam, he lit his cigar again. ‘The money was destined to go up in smoke,’ he said. And he went back to his colonia and capeened and smoked his fumcigar as long as he lived.”
Alexander Lenard, Valley of the Latin Bear (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1965), p. 115-16.