The Spanish-language Proverb of the day is:

El que no llora, no mama

Literally, “he who doesn’t cry, doesn’t (get to) suckle”

It’s the equivalent of the English language proverb: “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”, but it’s much more blunt. It means: you have to ask for what you want, insistently.

This proverb also comes from my homeland of Argentina, but it has a different origin than yesterday’s: a tango. While most Americans know tango as the music behind an exquisitely passionate dance, tango’s real power is in its lyrics. Classic tangos explores the themes of nostalgia and regret like no other music (even country music) and they are disarming in their honesty and realism.

Tango music is said to have developed in the whorehouses around Buenos Aires at the turn of the 20th century. Indeed, many tangos explore the topic of the “lost woman”. It quickly made it to the barrios (aka “arravales”), and became the tool to express the broken dreams and disenchantments of the poor. Tangos make extensive use of “lunfardo“, a dialect that originated among the criminal element in immigrant groups, but soon made its way into the barrios as well.

The proverb above comes from the tango “Cambalache“. Cambalaches are basically thrift stores.  The tango speaks about how tough, unfair and corrupt life is in the 20th century.  It’s been censored repeatedly in Argentina, but it’s still one of the most popular and well known tangos.