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ZUENIR VENTURA

1968 – o ano que não terminou

The newspaper of the day devoted no more than a mere 15 lines to it. In the records that are still around, it is only mentioned as one of the countless parties that marked the arrival of the new year, back in 1968. And yet, for those who experienced what was to be a banal event, it remains like a mysterious landmark with symbolic and hidden meanings that only memory and time have the power to discover, or create, until acquiring the stuff of which myths are made.

Wouldn't the same have happened with the "New Year's Party at Helô's house" as happened with other apparently insignificant yet memorable events? After all, the Last Ball on Ilha Fiscal didn't deserve from the press, at the time, the due prominence that history, or legend later attributed to it.

It was one of the "best", affirms one of the social columns of the time, without, however, defining the corresponding significance, preferring to reflect on the more superficial reasons: "the Scotch was the genuine article", said the columnist Léa Maria; the music "was a mixture of carnival and sixties pop", and the outfits on view were diverse – "smoking jackets, long formal dresses, short mini-skirts, elegant hippy attire". Furthermore, the guest list was impressive: "one half, people in cinema and avant-garde theatre; the other half, groups of young revolutionaries".

Inveja – Mal secreto

"Mrs. Zuenir Ventura!", the nurse called out in a loud voice. As I stepped forward, the whole waiting room laughed. Having anticipated that the battle-axe was going to get my gender wrong, and in a vain attempt to avoid the ignominy, I had run right up to her, as soon as she appeared clutching those papers, in an attempt to let her know by my very presence that the person listed was in fact a man. It was all to no avail. In addition to not paying the slightest attention to me, she proceeded to call out "Mrs...!" again. "I'm the goddam Mrs you’re looking for!", I exploded, my ridiculous phrase provoking further laughter still. My mood darkened. "Are you deaf or something – I'm telling you it's me and you're not even listening!, I growled. She didn't turn a hair. "How was I to have known, sir?", she said and turned her back on me. Apart from anything else, she had that awful habit picked up from dubbed TV movies, increasingly rampant amongst cult secretaries, telephonists and nurses – that odious Americanism: "It's your turn, sir", "How can I help you, sir", "Thank you, sir". In my day, nobody spoke like that unless they were addressing the Lord in Heaven."