The Girl from Ipanema

The current Copo do Mundo madness recalls the years I spent in Rio de Janeiro when the month of June came around. That was when our Doberman, Jeff, put his paws over his ears and burrowed under the sofa. The firecrackers, some big ones that blasted the eardrums, and fire balloons that passed overhead threatening and sometimes actually causing conflagrations, caused an exodus from Brazil of non-fans of the Copo. 

But the Girl from Ipanema! That song, my very favorite, is a genius collaboration between Tom Jobim and his lyricist Vinicius de Moraes. Jobim’s morning haunt was a sidewalk coffee shop on Copacabana Beach, where, presumably he composed the song. I guess he couldn’t fit “Copacabana” anywhere into his song and so used “Ipanema.”

The Girl in question is real. She could be seen doing her thing, undulating along the sand in a very tiny bikini, the kind the Brazilians referred to as “fio dental,” or dental floss. I understand she has a daughter or granddaughter to carry on the tradition. I once spotted Jobim having his morning coffee at a sidewalk cafe at the beach.

Brazilian men are very circumspect about women wearing next to nothing because beachwear and brief sundresses are commonplace and it is considered unsophisticated to gawk or say sexist things to women dressed in such manner. The men are proud of their women and even in landlocked cities such as Sao Paulo this attitude holds true. I could wish this philosophy upon Italian men in Italy, whose life occupation seems to involve touching, grabbing, and saying tasteless things to passing women. This was my lot when I lived in Rome and so, when I returned there in 1989 with Renato and again in 1991 alone, I felt somewhat neglected. So many years ago, now a memory.Image


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