The Girl from Ipanema

I used to take a stroll to Ipanema beach three blocks away from our home and check out two fixtures on the scene: the girl, of course, who sashayed along the sand in her bikini, and Tom Jobim, the composer of that song, having his morning coffee at a sidewalk cafe. The lyricist, Vinicius Moraes, evidently preferred to sleep late, although I did spot him at a restaurant. I have loved that song for years for its elegance and stately rhythms.

And as usual the beach would be crowded with girls in their string bikinis, which the locals had dubbed “dental floss.” The men did not harass them, showing also grace and elegance. One did not act the fool with Brazil’s female assets, rather taking them in stride and with pride.

This was not true in Italy, where men pounced on any girl in the streets. And the girls were fully dressed.

My novel “A Rare Passion” set in Brazil brings on those girls during their rip-roaring Carnaval. Renato and I spent a night at the Municipal building watching the parade of near naked bodies in such proximity that we could count the beads of sweat.


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