jueves, marzo 22, 2007

Character profile: Tomás Tomás.

This character profile was written by Sólo con tu pareja screenwriter Carlos Cuarón, in 1990, as a way to help actor Daniel Giménez Cacho get to know his character. It was translated for this release by Mariana Carreño King.

ACCORDING TO MRS. JIMENA JIMÉNEZ DE TOMÁS, the birth of her only son was the most painful event in the history of humanity. "I begged the doctor to rid me of the pain. I told him that I'd keep the abscess if he wanted me to, that he didn't have to take him out. I bet Toamsito felt the same way, because he seemed to be clutching to the uterus walls with his tiny hands. It wasn't like that with Ramona. With her, it was hard work, but I felt no pain. Something to do with the gender difference," she declares to the magazine Submissive Mothers. The pain of childbirth rapidly turned into an overprotective mothers' unrivaled love, which, as time passed, became a model of dedication for the readers of Mrs. Jimena's favorite magazine.

When her husband, Mr. Tomás Tomás Tomás, visited her at the hospital, her heartlessly declared, "That child doesn't look like me." An odd statement since, according to one of the family's neighbors, "Tomás and his sister Ramona looked like twins, even if she was four years older."

Tomás grew up under his mother's skirt, which is why —some say— he couldn't help his fondness for grabbing bottoms, even as a grown man. Truth be told, his manual abilities crowned his innate charisma. His grandmother, Elisa Elías, widow of Jiménez, always remembered the first time she laid eyes on him, when she said, "This child is so handsome that he deserves at least a thousand queens." To which the infant responded with a wink, squeezing her left breast with his diminutive hand. That day Grandma suffered a sudden fainting spell and was lucky that a nurse was there to catch her.

Tomás lived his first years with the pleasure and suffering of his nature. He rejoiced and endured caresses and pampering from whoever came in contact with him. He experienced the happiness and the bitterness that come with being a ball passed from hand to hand, like a fetish or a lucky charm. Two people, however, were immune to his precious gifts: his father and his sister Ramona.

The antagonism between Tomás and his progenitor originated during Mrs. Jimena's labor and ended one day when Mr. Tomás looked at his eight-year-old son and told him with a smile: "You will be a real man." Ramona stuck his tongue out, and Mr. Tomás went to buy a pack of Raleighs, never to return. Nobody knew if he left with another woman or if he was run over by a bus or if he just got lost among the airplanes at the airport, which was his only true passion in life. They looked for him for two years, but they didn't try very hard.

While Mr. Tomás lived at home, his sole consolation was Ramona, a devotion that divided the family into two camps. Ramona and Mr. Tomás were Club América fans; Tomás and his mother backed the Red Sharks, from Veracruz (Mrs. Jimena could never forget her native region). A simple soccer match could turn into civil war, a sacred crusade, a clash of profound ideologies, all to end in a Pyrrhic victory, because ties didn't exist in their world.

During that time, Ramona lived in her father's pocket as much as Tomás lived under his mother's skirt. She despaired over how her brother was pampered by the whole world while she was ignored like a nun in a brothel. She hated in when Tomás learned to walk: "The big idiot used to follow me everywhere. He'd catch me and hugh me and give me a wet kisses. I couldn't do anything, because I always had Mother's eye on me," she confessed to her best friend, before eloping with a hippie from San Francisco et eighteen. "Although one time, I solved the problem by tying his shoelaces together. Of course, as a result, I got my mothers shoe —and my dad's complicit smile."

But if Tomás's walking had been torture, his acquiring language had been even worse: "Dramona! The brat used to call me Dramona! Can you fucking believe that?" she complained bitterly to the same friend on that occasion. The last straw was Mr. Tomás's unanticipated departure. The latent, not fully acknowledged standoff in the family was broken, and the balance shifted to one side. "I had to root for the fucking Red Sharks, man. That really hurt," she confessed to her boyfriend, when they were living in Berkeley. Ramona never understood why, if he and Tomás looked so alike, she never earned the world's attention. Tomás never understood why, if Ramona was his very first and truest love, she always dealt him a rejection card.

More than giving him a thorough education, school taught Tomás to use his charisma. He learned how to manipulated his personal charm at will. It took some time, because ever since first grade, the girls enjoyed chasing him during recess to shower him with kisses. Tomás confided to Mateo Mateos, his intimate friend as a grown man: "At the beginning it was fine. But then I grew scared of the sound of the recess bell. At six, a kiss is a pinch, and a pinch a kiss. In general, I let them all have a go at me, except stupid Claudette Clouthier, always full of lipstick and wearing fake nails."

During that year, Tomás learned to keep a reasonable distance from women, a lesson he forgot in fourth grade, when he sat on Alvarita Alvarado's desk and broke it, and they both fell to the ground, she on top of him. "I swear, in preschool, I was awed by the little 'slit' of the girl I showered with after a swimming class. But it was way cooler to feel Alvarita's 'slit' on my belly button. It wasn't natural: there was no dick or balls. It was like a mysterious void." Incidentally, after that day, Tomás decided to uncover the secret mystery that girls hid between their legs.

Feminine sexuality became an intriguing and confusing issue. Some time before, during the first semester of his second year in elementary school, the teacher confiscated his copy of Time Life's Book on Reproduction, alleging it was pure pornography. Years later, Tomás discovered that this confiscation was the result of the teacher's profound ignorance, since she was about to get married and had to learn one way or another how things were done. Tomás, probably just like the teacher, thought babies were born like chickens: a roster mounted a hen and out popped the eggs; that the father bought tiny seeds in the market and planted them in the mom's belly button, and then she fed them and made them grow. It was a sufficient explanation, and he didn't care to know the details. But the episode with Alvarita, and the fact that his mother family convinced him to go to the barbershop, were the greatest lessons of his sexual education.

Sebas, the barber, was the first person to show him a collection of porn magazines. Tomás was surprised to find a bigger mystery than he had suspected in the pictures. That, and Sebas's indictment that "women have everything to hide and nothing to show," left him in a limbo of speculation. Tomás's change in attitude and the crew cut that he maintained religiously intrigued Mrs. Jimena. One Friday the thirteenth, Mrs. Jimena decided to visit her son at the barbershop, and was mortified to find him, wide-eyed and pupils dilated, hunched over a page full of blond pubes, while Sebas snipped away and repeated, "Stop playing with your weenie." From that day on, Tomás went back to letting his hair grow.

As he matured and grew taller, Tomás's charisma focused even more specifically on women. His late two years in elementary school were marked by the antipathy of other men and the extraordinary candor of women. When he was late for the first day of classes in sixth grade, the principal told him: "Late, always late. Why so late? Are you Tomás Tomás or Tomás Tardy?" Tomás replied, "Better to come late than not at all." The principal did not think the philosophical precocity of his charge was funny and sentenced him to remain on his feet outside his office for the duration of the day. Tomás used his time wisely and carved a hole in the wall between the water fountains and the women's bathroom. "The principal thought I was very thirsty, because of the heat, but I actually made the hole quit fast and peeked through it every time a junior high schooler went to the bathroom. The elementary school girls I could picture, but the junior high schoolers had something else, like the girls in Playboy," Tomás confessed years later to Manuela Manuel, a psychologist with whom he had a very short treatment, since they ended that first session clinging to each other on the couch. She suffered a crisis over professional ethics, and enrolled in an intensive course with Dr. Skinner. Tomás was convinced that the ingenious therapy cured his premature ejaculations.

The ascent to seventh grade was painful wall to climb. It wasn't easy for Tomás to accept the physiological changes that characterize puberty. Cristina Cristiani, Tomás's passionate sixth-grade love, matured during the summer between sixth and seventh grade, and shed her flat-slab childhood self to become an adolescent with nascent hips and breast. Tomás saw her that first day of school, couldn't believe his eyes, and stopped talking to her for two and a half years. "I stopped talking her until we both reached about the same level. When I talked to her again, I wasn't interested anymore, because she only had eyes for high school guys. You might think it's stupid, but when you see the girl you loved growing up, and you have only three trees in the forest, you feel offended," he revealed to Clarisa Negrete, his wife, during their honeymoon in Huatulco.

While he came to terms with his body transformation, Tomás focused on feeding his cynicism, which was as much a part of his charisma as dirt is of nails, a disposition that he never feared, since he felt protected by his innate charm, which his classmates so envied. In eight grade, someone pulled his gym shorts down in front of the whole class, and the geography teacher, leaving him in his underwear and displaying half of his butt, covered her mouth with her hands and said, "Ay, Tomás! Pull up your pants! Or do you want to show us your underwear all day?" "Whoever pulled them down should pull them back up," Tomás responded. "And at least I'm wearing underwear." The teacher blushed suddenly and rushed out of the classroom in tears, an act that symbolized the reality of national education for decades to come.

One fateful day, during his junior high school year, Tomás decided that should resume the mission he had inadvertently begun when a Alvarita fell on top of him. He dumped Cristina Cristiani, because she had become a consecrated diva, and after carefully observing all the schoolgirls, he finally chose Lorenza Lorenzo. "Little Lorenza was a darling. She'd cook me these little cakes... and she was a tiny twat —like this big— really tiny. She was a year older than me but looked like she was two years younger —a little tiny teeny-weeny thing. I swear. But I think I made the damn mistake of believing I was in love with that, that... compact model, brother," he told Takeshi Shudato, famed gynecologist, who would later become the solution to his work problems, in a period of global crisis, during a drinking binge in Garibaldi that seemed to go forever.

If Tomás didn't fall in love with Lorenza, he yielded to the temptation of experiencing firsthand the hidden secrets of women. One night, they ended up naked on the bed of Lorenza's parents, who were away on a shopping trip in Houston. "I couldn't, Mateo. I felt her father's steps coming into the room, and I chickened out. I got dressed, and I left without saying a word to her," he confided to his best friend, during a night of half-true confessions, since he'd never dare tell Mateo what he'd done with his wife, Teresa, before Mateo married her. The steps Tomás felt were not Lorenza's father's, but his sister Ramona's, the one he could never truly reach and with whom he could never consummate the incestuous love he always desired. "I think at the time, Tomás wanted to touch me just to feel what it would be like to touch himself. We look, so much alike... And the motherfucker loved himself too much," Ramona told Sidhananda, during a summer in India, before the guru tricked her out of two thousand dollars.

High school radically transformed Tomás's universe. Lorenza had taken it upon herself to publicize Tomás's failed night, and around the same time, Ramona eloped to San Francisco with Boogie Joe, a hippie she met out the warm sands of Paraíso, in the Mexican state of Guerrero. The earth ceased to be a decent place to live. Tomás returned to find refuge under the skirt of his mother, who devoted herself to taking him to concerts, exhibits, lectures, conferences, movies, the theatre, and every other activity she deemed worthy of her class. "My mother left me a lot of money, and I have to maintain my children's social status. Just don't let them learn English, because then they'd feel superior to you," Tomás heard the gossip to her best friend, at a bakery at the intersection of Monterrey and Tehuantepec streets, since she never wanted to leave her house in the Roma neighborhood. Tomás didn't contradict his mother's ideas, because in reality, he favored staying with the platonic love he'd found in the solitude: the TV.

In high school, Tomás learned another use for his natural charm. He put in neutral, with just enough magnetic force to pass his classes with a smile, since he preferred to devour the screen of his Philips than to lay eyes on the meager notes he managed to write. In school, Tomás was ignored by women and returned the favor, until just before graduation, when he experienced his first drinking binge, lost control of his gift, and ended up between Andrea André's legs. The next day, she confessed to her best friend: "Motherfucker came in a jiffy and couldn't stop calling me Ramona. Who's that slut, eh?"

"That fucking bitch took me to the cleaners," Tomás said to Takeshi, chugging a shot of tequila with Sprite and slamming the glass on the table, during that epic drinking night in Garibaldi.

After Tomás discovered women's hidden secrets, it didn't take him long to realize that those mysteries vary from person to person, so he dedicated himself, body and soul, to deciphering as many as he could. He would put a mark on his bed's headboard for each women who fell for him, just as fighter pilots put a marks on their fuselages for the planes they've taken down. But in an afternoon full of bed omens, Mrs. Jimena learned the meaning of all those marks and kicked him out of the house. Two days later, she had the entire police force looking for her son. They found him in the arms of Gloria Gold, a rich publicist who had just founded her own advertising firm. Mrs. Jimena forbade Tomás to see that "daughter of a whore and kosher dad." And if Tomás didn't see Gloria for four years, that night still marked him, and the next morning the woke up eager to study advertising.

"Advertising?! Jews own that industry, not apostolic Roman Catholics! If you enroll for that, I'll stop talking to you, Tomasito. I'm serious, you hear?" his mother told him when she found out his plans. The intrusion, however, reaffirmed Tomás's vocation, since he had learned how to replace his mother's skirt with any skirt that crossed his path. Before his mother stopped talking to him, Tomás wanted to make two things clear: "I'm not Catholic —and don't call me Tomasito." Mrs. Jimena, shedding a sea of tears, left for her bridge match to share her grinding grief with her fellow players.

In college, Tomás discovered his talent for using words to manipulate people, with the sensible goal of taking advantage of them. His love for TV screen had paid off. His charisma strengthened his language skills, and he modulated it with cynicism. There was nobody who didn't admire his wit, which he devoted to the creation of subliminal commercials. He made such an impact that he became legendary. "It's easier to manipulate in private universities, because the population remains in a state of doltishness," he said to Gloria Gold, during his job interview to join Care, Affection & Co. It was clear that Gloria was impressed with Tomás's words, by virtue of not understanding them. The reason she hired him, though, was that that same afternoon, they ended up on top of an artist's drafting table (the artist had to repeat the day's work, for obvious reasons). From that night, when the police caught them in the act, they both liked the idea of living dangerously —until Gloria found out Tomás's true raffish life.

As an exemplary student, Tomás enjoyed the favors of all of him female classmates. Instead of marking his bed's headboard, he gave them slogans. The best known was "Colombina: not a loser, not a winner," a line that the aforementioned young woman plagiarized for a Bacardi advertising campaign. Tomás filled a notebook with slogans, but the most often heard comment from his victims was: "Why so quick? Why didn't you wait for me?" Tired of hearing the same remark, Tomás looked for the ugliest woman he could fined. One day, in the school cafeteria, he stumbled into Teresa de Teresa, philosophy student, and he thought that a women whom the gods had so obviously forgotten could be the solution to all his troubles. And she was. Teresa told him the same thing other women had, but she recommended Manuela Manuel, expert psychologist in problems of frigidity and premature ejaculation.

Tomás left college, with honors and the admiration of his classmates and French and linguistics teachers, to encounter the brash reality of a world that moves at 365 revolutions per year. Joining Gloria Gold's advertising firm was, as he told his mother, "a pice of pie." Mrs. Jimena didn't find her son's assertion very funny, nor that work meant Tomás's moral, social, and economic independence. Resigned, she accepted her cherub's move and gave him a microwave as a gift. "These little ovens are very practical for bachelors. They heat food superfast, and you don't need to known how to cook," she told him at the threshold, since she always refused to look at "the smelly hovel you call home."

Working efficiently and happily in his newfound independence, Tomás devoted himself to exploring the cure that Manuela Manuel had given him. His rate of success with women was such that some of them nicknamed him Metropolis, to which Tomás responded, in the hoarse tone of Sam Spade, "Darling, I never crumble." Then he would turn to the bartender of the Hipophysis, his favorite hangout, and order with poise: "Mani, two Bloody Marys to go. Crushed ice and no celery."

When Tomás left the maternal nest, he established a friendship with Mateo Mateos, who moved into the same building around the same time. One night, already settled, Tomás invited Mateo to his apartment —where fewer boxes were strewn— for a drink. There, Mateo told him, "Pane lucrando [my daily bread], I'm devoted to women." Tomás found it incredible that someone like him existed, someone to exchange experiences with. He discovered how mistaken he was late into the night, and after many drinks, when Mateo confessed, "What I like most about being a gynecologist is that you are like the stork." If hours before Mateo had been an extraordinary man, he now briskly became the most admirable man in the whole of creation. "You bastard! Doc, seeing and touching so many damn women and not getting a hard-on... I tip my hat to you!" Mateo blushed, because although to him women had always been nature's masterpiece and the ideal object for scientific experimentation, Tomás had touched his darkest side: the morbid desire for a woman outside of his office. "You have really touched so many women only with your own instrument?" he asked Tomás, before passing out hugging a Marilyn Monroe poster, which he ruined.

Mateo and Tomás became great friends, because they were two sides of the same coin. Mateo became Tomás's doctor and confessor; and at the same time, Tomás became Mateo's escape from his repressed fantasies. One night full of shooting stars, they went to the Hipophysis. Mateo disliked the place the moment he set foot inside, but he found something that would lure him there for the rest of his life. "Who is that strange beauty, so like a women from El Greco?" he asked Tomás, pointing to Teresa de Teresa. Tomás introduced them after Teresa asked him if he overcome the little problem with his quick trigger. Then he left with Teresa's friend, Bubbles.

If Mateo fell madly in love with Teresa and managed to marry her six months later, the night that Tomás invited Bubbles to his place managed to be a night of failures. They engaged in a never-ending argument about the meaning of the Sixth Commandment according to Saint Agustìn, San Juan de la Cruz, and Santa Teresa de Jesús, topics that made Tomás sleepy and Bubbles furious, after which she produced a joint from her bra and said, "You have to try this grass —pure monkey shit." Bubbles became as catatonic as the Sphinx, staring at the desert from where thou shalt not commit adultery.

Tomás's life followed its course through a list of women for whom he would later be forced to write slogans. He did his job and did hid boss. Gloria never knew about the collection of secrets that Tomás kept, until the day she found out and fired him with the accumulated fury of Yahweh.

One afternoon of what appeared to be electrocuted sparrows, Tomás worked diligently on the creation of a slogan for an advertising campaign for engagement rings. After many failed attempts, he looked through the window and saw how a male sparrow mounted its mate. It shook its wings and trembled in ecstasy as fast as a warble and then disengaged, flew away, and perched on a cable, where, upon receiving the price of light, it fell with bristled wings. "Fucking bastard bird. You died alone, and I'm also going to die alone. I have no one to give a diamond to, because I'm an idiot. There's no clean snow left in the whole pigsty, and I'm the biggest hog," he told the sparrow's corpse, while pushing it from the windowsill, where it had fallen.

It took two weeks for Tomás to come up with the slogan, which turned out to be "The strength is in the union" and which Gloria anded up using in a campaign for Resistol Glue 250. What at the beginning was a quick and smooth creative process became a torture that would last hours, days and weeks, without yielding results. Gloria was concerned and thought that the solution lay in Tomás adapting to the dynamics of modern times, so she gave him a computer with the most sophisticated software. Facing the color monitor, Tomás spent his days thinking that he had nothing to think. Every once in a while, he managed to concentrate on the electronic version of Snakes and Ladders. The fact that he had to finish projects that he couldn't finish made him sick. And if he didn't get sick, he forced himself to get sick with the aid of a thermometer and a 100-watt lightbulb. He would call Mateo to get a remedy. At first, the gynecologist would tell him, "You know perfectly well what your remedy is."

Tomás knew well the only way to cure himself, avoid work, and do it his way: get tangled between the legs of a woman, enjoy the pleasure and the moment, then feel empty, think about his sister Ramona, who lived with her second husband, a Norwegian founding member of Greenpeace program Save the North Sea Whales, and convince himself that he would never have anyone to give a diamond ring to. "On the outside, I appear fine to everyone, always problem-free. But deep within, I felt something was missing," he confessed before his death To Susan Sometimes, a North American who would be the perdition of his soul and flesh, for better and for worse. Tomás strived to escape reality and Gloria through other women. He gradually stopped frequenting his job and his boss. "Gloria was only fun when I was eighteen. But she was my boss, and the boss is the boss, and I have to please her. If with other women I felt bad, with Gloria I felt horrible," he told his wife, Clarisa, during a publicists' conference in Osaka, Japan, years later.

Feeling he had a duty, however, Tomás accepted visiting Gloria to fulfill his obligation as a bedside employee, in a very old bed. "I didn't feel like a Don Juan anymore, as Mateo wanted to see me. I kept forgetting all their names, and the only thing I wanted was to be rescued by an angel. That's really hard when you're doing everything not to find her... Remember how you caught me the other day, Clarisa?" he asked his wife, during the closing ceremony of the same conference, a minute before heading toward the bathroom and bumping into the black omen of Susan Sometimes and her see-through lace for the first time.

In those days, Tomás needed an event to change his existence and straighten the course of his romantic life, even if he never really overcame the temptation of getting other people's women. As Paola Palos, one of his many affairs and a huge fan of all things New Age, would say after hearing a maliciously false rumor, "Things happen at their right moment, not before."

miércoles, marzo 21, 2007

Qué les puedo decir: he estado viéndola:

Más información, sobre todo de los personajes, aquí:


Subiré después el perfil de Tomás.

¡Hasta luego!

viernes, marzo 09, 2007

Ésas que allí se ven, vagas cicatrices entre los campos de labor, son las ruinas del campamento de Nobílior. Más allá se alzan los emplazamientos militares de Castillejo, de Renieblas y de Peña Redonda...

De la remota ciudad sólo ha quedado una colina cargada de silencio. Y junto a ella, bordeándola, esa ruina de río. El arroyo Merdancho musita su cantilena de juglar, y sólo en las crecidas de junio resuena con épica grandeza.

Esta llanura apacible vio el desfile de los generales ineptos. Nobílior, Lépido, Furio Filo, Cayo Hostilio Mancino... Y entre ellos el poeta Lucilio, que paseó aquí con aires de conquistador, y que volvió a Roma maltrecho y abatido, caídas la espada y la lira, botó ya el fino dardo de su epigrama.

Legiones y legiones se estrellaron contra los muros invencibles. Millares de soldados cayeron ante las flechas, el desaliento y el invierno. Hasta que un día el exasperado Escipión se alzó en el horizonte como una ola vengativa, y apretó con sus manos tenaces, sin soltar durante meses, el duro pescuezo de Numancia.

Juan José Arreola, Elegía.