Thursday, April 2, 2009

Ecuadorian TV Moments Part I

I’m sitting in a Chifa, which is a Chinese restaurant, in Guaranda before heading to Riobamba en route to Cuenca. I am moving and would like to make the 4-bus trip today so that I can have all day tomorrow in Cuenca. Chifas, while unhealthy, saturated with MSG and cornstarch, are an easy vegetarian option. I stopped at a Mediterranean restaurant that didn’t have anything, anything, vegetarian. I asked about hummus and was greeted with a blank face.

On the tele is an American Idoleque show. The first young lady performs in a manner that seems to fit what I know about South American and Mexican television. Really sexy, or cute, depending on her age. Really cheesy, with costumes and loads of makeup. Her song is pretty poppy, and the performance garners her three 10s, which I assume is a perfect score.

The next performer is Patito, who is another young lady. However, Patito has been made up like a nerd, complete with thick glasses, fake freckles, and pigtails. Incidentally, she is likely a very pretty young lady as well. During Patito’s performance, the camera continues to show a tall, handsome man in the audience. He is enjoying Patito’s performance quite a bit, as is most of the audience. I’m wondering if he is married to Patito, or maybe her father, brother, manager…something, assuredly.

Patito’s performance is fairly typical, following the dweeb theme quite closely. From what I can gather, the song is an innocent one about a crush or something. It fits.

The first two judges agree that Patito’s performance was apt, rewarding her with 10s. The third judge, presumably the Simon of the bunch, is a bit more tough on Patito. He begins talking about her image, and how important image is in the business. The tall, handsome man seems upset at this, and is still somehow earning camera time. The curmudgeonly crab of a judge continues to rant about Patito and how she must change her image to fit with showbusiness.

His rant presents two viable possibilities. One, he’s not at all impressed with the purposeful nerd thing, and maybe thinks it’s been played out in Latin America. I certainly wouldn’t argue with that. Two, he doesn’t realize that Patito is clearly playing a part for the performance, and if necessary, could probably be as hot and sexy as the first girl. This possibility is almost beyond belief, given how obvious it is that she’s putting on.

Still, we’re getting a healthy eyeful of Tall Dark Handsome, hereafter TDH.

Patito is clearly upset, and I’m clearly confused. TDH is as upset as Patito, though where her emotion manifests itself as shame and embarrassment, TDH is getting pissed. TDH takes the stage and reaches for a microphone. I’m still confused. TDH is trading insults with Curmudgeonly Crab (hereafter CC) about this and that. Eventually, CC asks, naturally, who the hell TDH is anyway.

“Soy el padre de Patito,” TDH replies passionately.

The crowd, in unison, is absolutely stunned. Patito is stunned. Judges, stunned. Even TDH, the voice behind the surprise, seems stunned now that it’s become audible.

Here’s where it gets weird. Keep in mind, we’ve been watching American Idol here for about 25 minutes, had two complete performances with two complete judgements and a couple of rants to boot.

All of a sudden, we zoom out of the program, and we’re suddenly in a room of stunned preteens. The preteens, all wearing the same denim getup, are watching the American Idol program from their couch at home. We’re not watching American Idol, though we thought we were. The entire American Idol thing, all 25 minutes, was just a mere set piece inside of a bigger story, wherein Patito is a major character. Evidently, the three preteens are Patito’s friends and are floored by the secret about her TDH father.

I’m stunned, and feel I’ve been had, but for a totally different reason. Lucky I didn’t have a cell phone, or I might have voted for the first, sexy girl. Unbelievable.

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