Bella the Great

In Chile, and perhaps in other South American countries, I’m not sure, nicknames are often given based on what you looked like. To the uninitiated, and particularly to North Americans, they may seem cruel or politically incorrect, but in Chile, trust me, they are not. They’re terms of endearment.

If your ears stick out, your nickname could be ‘mono’. Monkey. If you’re pleasantly plump, ‘gordo’. Chubbo! (By the way, losing weight will not magically change your nickname, sorry.) Have a long, pointy nose, and small eyes? Rata. You don’t have to use Google Translate to know what that means.

Normally you’re given these names in school or by your family. And they will stick for the rest of your life. My own nickname, and I’ve been called it my entire life, is ‘Menoca’. It doesn’t mean anything. My older brother, when I was born, called me that because he was like, 1 year old and couldn’t pronounce Veronica. That was it. My entire family, including extended family, calls me that and always has. Some of my cousins don’t even know what my real name is.

My brothers and I call our mom ‘Vieja’. That’s her name. We also call her Mom a lot, but if we’re speaking in Spanish, it’s ‘Vieja’. Which literally means ‘old’. We also call her Bella. She’s beautiful, but that’s not why. There’s also a little tradition of nicknaming your grandparents. It’s whatever the first grandchild calls you. My nephew called her Bella because he couldn’t pronounce ‘Abuela’. My mom was obviously delighted by that one. She is Bella to her 3 grandkids, and very often to her 3 kids.

This post wasn’t going to be about nicknames, I just wanted you to know why my mom is called Bella. Since this post is about her, it was easier to refer to her as Bella than to say ‘my mom’ a zillion times.

Bella makes me crazy. She’s hilarious crazy, thankfully. My little brother has a standup act and I don’t know why he can’t base the entire thing around her.

  • Yesterday, we were driving along the Lougheed highway, where there was a Superstore about 300m up the road. The Lougheed is undergoing tons of construction right now, and there are so many pylons and lane redirections there it’s unbelievably confusing. Keep in mind, I was the one who was driving and having to deal with it. We were remarking about how all the highways (including the one near our homes) seem to be under construction this summer and what a pain it is. Bella said, “And they’ve even made turning into the Superstore confusing! Who can figure it out! Someone’s going to crash one of these days!” I looked up ahead and said, “I don’t think so, it looks like you can just make a normal turn up at the light.” Bella: “No you can’t!” Me: “I’m pretty sure you can, look.” Bella: “I’m not talking about that Superstore! Why would I talk about that Superstore? I don’t care about this Superstore, I care about my Superstore!” Of course.
  • On cell phones. This technology and the way it makes our lives easier has never been understood by Bella. She had a cell phone for about 3 years, which she used maybe 5 times, mostly by mistake, and she has since cancelled it (although she still says, “call me on my cell phone!”) A typical day: A cell phone is ringing. Bella: “Can you hear that cell phone? Someone’s phone is ringing! That drives me crazy! Why don’t people answer their phones? How annoying, phones ringing all over the place! Wait, it’s my phone! Where is it, where is it? Oh, there it is! Who can it be? You’re right here! Hello, hello? Bah! It went to voicemail! I don’t know how to get voicemail! No no no, don’t tell me, I don’t want to know! Stop telling me, I’ll never remember!”
  • When my mom brings the kids home for me if she’s babysitting, I am under no circumstances allowed to have set the burglar alarm. She refuses to learn how to disarm it, and hates how it beeps at her. “Stop beeping! Bah!”
  • Highways and exits make her nervous. There’s a particular exit off the Lougheed that is kind of confusing, to be fair. The signage isn’t clear, but if you keep going under the overpass instead of veering to the right, you get home. Well, one day Bella veered right when driving alone. “It’s the way the road was going! Then I said, this isn’t the way home! Where am I going? I don’t know this bridge! There were no more exits, and then it said, this way to the USA! The USA! All I could think was, I don’t have my passport!” Don’t worry, she obviously eventually made it home, but I’m sure the drive back was full of Bah! Bah!
  • I have had to go all the way to her house just to press the TV/DVD button on her remote for her. “There’s something wrong with my DVD player! Don’t tell me how to use a DVD player, I know how to press Play! It’s not working!”
  • Also yesterday, after buying her new widescreen HD TV, she said, “How do you get your TV to look like that? Why is the image on my TV so zoomed in? I can only see the middle of the picture! Something’s wrong with it.”  Me: “Every remote is different, but mine says ‘Wide’ and here, look at all the different settings”. Bella: “Wait, wait, wait, what are you doing? How are you doing that?” Me: “You just keep pressing ‘Wide’. But it might be called something different on your remote.” Bella: “It could be different? Wonderful! Now I’ll never be able to watch TV again!”

I could go on. She’s not completely crazy of course, she’s super smart and great company. Suffice it to say she’s a character, and the best part of when she’s her most colourful is she has no idea. It is not an act! But she should be my brother’s act. Although, it may only be funny to us. In fact, I’m sure this is only funny if you know her, which some of you do. We spend most of our family gatherings telling stories about her, and she just shakes her head and calls us crazy. “Bah! I do not! Stop making things up.” Yeah, as if we could make this up.



  1. bitacoradeluis says:

    las traducciones matan la esencia de lo que queria decir.-


  2. bitacoradeluis says:

    ¿Quien soy yo?.-
    Mi nombre es Luis ( Lucho , Luchin , Cholu , etc),un nuevo lector de World Press , antiguamente escribia como un loco , ahora no tanto , ya que las obligaciones laborales y familiares matan los talentos , es decir , el tiempo es culpable , en fin.-
    En Sudamérica , el que habla perfecto español es casi el menos visto , ya que muchas palabras se funcionario con el indígena vocal imperante , un ejemplo es la palabra poto ,que es el conjunto del ano , nalgas , etc , el culo pues) , palabra cien por ciento mapuche y que sigue en vigencia para siempre.-
    Que mas puedo decir , ahhh , por culpa del reggeaton ahora los jóvenes quieren hablar un Hispaninglish ( ¿Asi se escribe?),lo mas terrible de todo no es que se usen modismos extranjeros , si no , que pasada la moda , el lenguaje que queda es nefasto.-
    Yo no soy un gran orador , es mas , cuando se me suelta la boca digo garabatos como una letralladora ( metralladora con letras) ,pero si , me gusta lo propio , lo de mi tierra , prefiero un buen vino tinto que una coca cola.-




  3. Funny stuff. The Portuguese also give their relatives and friends nicknames. Sometimes someone may have a nickname he does not know about or want, which I find mean. Example: Cork (a drinker), Craps standing up (self explanatory)


  4. bitacoradeluis says:


    Otra salvedad , tambien los apodos o sobrenombres tienden a deformarse , da el ejemplo de la persona con orejas grandes.-

    Si le falta una oreja , se le dice “el tasa” , ya que como dice el apodo , solo tiene una oreja , como la tasa del té o cafe.-
    Rata es laucha , guaren , roedor , etc..-

    En sudamerica quedas loco con tantos sinominos propios de cada zona.-

    Saludos desde Chile


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