Thursday, December 2, 2010

The “Frijolito” (beans) Challenge, Calling in Auditions

This story was first told to me by my father in law John, the first version included pennies and a jar, it was told to me in English. This second version was told by John, but to Felipe’s friends from Mexico and in Spanish, hence the switch from pennies to beans or what we call “frijolitos”. The story goes as follows. During the first year of a marriage, a couple places one frijolito into a jar for each time  they “make love”. After the first year is over, every time the couple “makes love” a frijolito is removed from the jar. It is said that throughout the couple’s lifetime, the jar would never be completely emptied out. This causes instant laughs but what I find even funnier is the way people react to this story. As a good strategist, I analyzed the whole situation during our last dinner in Mexico, which constituted of Felipe’s closest (and oldest) friends. It also consisted of two guys who are married, and two guys who are UBBER single. This made my focus group even better, both single and married being fairly represented.

Here are the reactions.

The single guys were the first to laugh and laughed the loudest. Well, that makes sense, the joke is not on them, so there! They can seat on the sidelines and laugh their asses off. But what was interesting is that this automatic burst of laughter was shortly followed by an anxious feeling of “is this what I have to look forward to?”.

The married guys instantaneously laughed as well.  But there was something interesting about this married group of participants. One of the married guys (whose name I won’t mention here even though it will be obvious to everyone so sorry in advance for any marital conflicts this post might cause). Anyway, this one married guy had shown up to dinner alone since his wife was traveling to the US to visit family. He also had just very, very recently gotten married, so I had my eye out to see how he had changed and transformed due to his newly committed life. Soon enough, sirens went off! His reaction to the frijolito challenge gave it away completely. His reaction was to first challenge the frijolito story: “That isn’t MY particular case”. This is the natural knee jerk response of a newlywed, whose latest memories of intimicacy are found right around the corner, honeymoon snapshots from some beautiful, uninhabited and desserted island. But it was his second reaction that really proved it, he was one of us, the married kind. While challenging the frijolito story and trying to prove to us all that this was not HIS story, he began getting concerned about making this challenge public: “what would his wife say?” “How would she react?” , “What if she were to find out?" Boy would he be in trouble! 

And so the night went on, and so this newly, very newly wed drank his tequilas. I think that is what unites all of us married people who have blindly jumped in. It is now you plus one, ALWAYS. Every action that you take has a reaction in your partner. And while this might give some a bit of an acid reflux, it also means that someone will always have your back no matter what action one takes (or how many frijolitos you put in the jar).

So to that certain newlywed who we love dearly, “bienvenido a la vida de los oprimidos” (or, "welcome to the life of the oppressed”)…frijolitos or not, I have a good feeling it will be a hell of a ride for us all!

Oh, and to all interested, we are calling in auditions and would love it if someone could report on results. 

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