We made it through August… Let the fiesta begin!
Chileans—especially the older ones—have a thing about August, a kind of a wary-scary dread accompanied by the increasing mantra-like use of the expression “si pasamos agosto…” (if we get through August), followed by a clearly audible self-congratulatory sigh of relief come September 1st: ¡Ya Pasamos Agosto! We did it! YAY! We got through August!
August is the tail end of Chilean winter, and let me tell you that three long months of cold, damp, gray, and dreary, can really take its toll. Especially on the abuelitos, the older folks who have spent most of the past three months wrapped in bufandas (scarves) huddled up to a guatero (hot water bottle), and shivering beside the estufa (free-standing heater), avoiding drafts, keeping their feet warm, and basically trying not to get sick.
August is a rather neurotic month, and its schizoid flip-flopping between hot and cold, sun and rain, and brownish smog vs. the more preferable invisible-type O2 really wreak havoc on delicate respiratory systems and kick off a rash of bronchial and sinus infections, along with bad colds, which lead to pneumonia, which leads to the hospital, which leads to…. well, let’s just say that many older people fear it’s the end of the line, the last stop on the train, where they’ll buy the farm and kick the bucket…or in the finest Chileno: estirar la pata… irse al patio de los callados…parar la chala… poner la piyama de madera…dejar de existir…
**See vocabulary lesson below…
(FYI and just for the record… I checked the statistics and found a report that showed that more adults actually die in May, June, and July.)
So clearly, pasar agosto is a big deal among the so-called “third agers” (the tercera edad, as it’s called here) and cause for celebration. A quick google check revealed a number of fiestas in senior centers and even an all-out bash at Los Buenos Muchachos (a very Chilean restaurant that’s big with groups and tourists) suggesting that families invite the senior generation to a big show tonight with 1980s singer Luis Dimas.
So, ¡Ya pue’ chiquillos!, ¡Ya pasamos Agosto!, which is also mighty convenient, because September just happens to be the national party month, time for Fiestas Patrias… a 2-day holiday that tends to turn into a month-long celebration of spring and independence…
All of the following expressions are typical ways of saying that someone has died. Please feel free to correct or add more! And for even more Chilean slang and expressions, take a look at the Glossary of Chilenismos.
estirar la pata (stretch out the foot or leg)
irse al patio de los calla’os (go to the patio with the ‘quiet ones’)
parar la chala (chalas are sandals, but parar can mean to stop or to stand up, so I come up with 2 different interpretations with the same effect: that the sandals stop walking or that they are bottoms up, meaning that the person is lying on their back)
poner la piyama de madera (put on the wooden pajamas–with reference to the coffin)
dejar de existir (stop existing… this is a very standard, formal way of referring to death–a favorite of newscasters–that has always given me chills… do we really stop ‘existing’ when we die? doesn’t memory count? is this too existential a question for a blog?)