The Legal Department wisely advised: as of tomorrow (16), with the official start of the election period meow meow thing and such, it is better to avoid satire and texts that may have some sort of broader interpretation. Otherwise, I may be forced to give this space to a “right of reply” written by an illiterate advisor. As I do not want my reader to go through such a traumatic experience, I promised the illustrious esquire that I will walk on eggshells. When, in fact, it meant that he intended to spend the next two months lounging on a razor’s edge. But it stays with us.
It was like that, walking against the wind, without handkerchief or document, that at the weekend I found myself in front of the fountain in Osório square, telling a friend, for the thousandth time, the story of when I took a bath there. At this point you must be thinking “how disgusting!” and “share this story with us, man!”. And, since we are in a moment of confidences, allow me to confess that I am terrified of being mistaken for a flâneur. Therefore, I will leave this story for another day. Perhaps even for a chronicle with the presence of my wife and Catota, who are somewhat absent from here.
Accelerating my pace so quickly, here I find myself on Rua XV, also known as “O Calçadão of Copacabana das Araucárias” or “La Ramblas das Araucárias” or “The Malecón das Araucárias”. Everything belongs to the araucarias in the araucaria kingdom. To my right, I see a capoeira circle full of people wearing Lula shirts and MST caps. I comment to my friend that, damn, that’s what the future holds! “The Revolution will be carried out to the sound of the berimbaus!”, I say, with feigned solemnity.
We take a few more steps, exchanging pessimistic hyperboles. He says that at least el paderón will be painted with the colors of the rainbow. I laugh, I get distracted, and I almost get hit by a badminton racket. Here, perhaps the most skeptical reader may be suspicious of my narrative, but it is the purest reality (you can check it out, Agência Lupa!). Taking care to avoid the shuttlecocks, because I take a few more steps and.
What am I seeing?! It can not be! As if in a cartoon, I rub my eyes and what I have in front of me is the materialization of a fear. Not exactly a fear of mine, but a fear that is out there. To my left (oh, what an irony!), see some boys and girls lined up and saluting two other very serious boys – as befits junior sergeants. I turn to my friend, who, wide-eyed, looked even more scared than I was.
“Sense!” shouts one of the sergeants. With an angry face and all. Boys and girls clap their hands on the sides of their legs. By sheer reflex, I also stand at attention. Miss Madalena Sofia… “Show weapons!”, shouts the other sergeant-mirim. The teenagers salute, but this time I disobey. “Rest!”, shouts I don’t even know who. The group spreads their legs and puts their hands behind their backs. All very erect. Committed as if he were about to land in Normandy.
My friend and I say at the same time “militiacel” – and one doesn’t understand what the other said. “Military!” I repeat. “Incel,” he repeats. So the two of them understand each other’s stupidity. I immediately think of Bolivarian militias and child armies in documentaries about barbarism in Africa. Then, seeing two skinny boys (who I hope I can call nerds without offending anyone, because they really were nerds), I imagine a Jordanpetersonian Youth Brigade. Perhaps an Integralist Platoon. Or even a Fascist Crusade, I don’t know. And, as imagining is really free, I take the opportunity to fantasize about a fight between the mini-paramilitaries and the berimbau players that I had seen a few steps before. Wow!
I walk away feeling the full weight of the future that politics has in store for us. I imagine coup, counter coup, torture, executions, barricades in the streets. All around me, reality becomes a black-and-white movie with crippled civilians amid ruins. Bombs rain from the sky. “We’re screwed!” I say to my friend, who responds with grim silence. Or maybe he didn’t understand what I said. “We’re screwed!” I repeat louder, just to be sure. Silence.
Here’s what I decide: I’m not going to sleep having nihilistic nightmares with radicalized youth at war in a necessarily dystopian future. “I’m a journalist!” I say pathetically to my friend. Turn around, turn around! and head towards the platoon. I approach and wait for the sergeant-child to give instructions to another nerdy boy who joins the ranks. As if he’s talking to a five-foot-tall authority, I clear my throat before asking, or rather inquiring, “What is…? Which is…? This from here?”. I gesture like he’s painting a surreal canvas. Or plastering an imaginary wall.
The sergeant-mirim opens that cheeky smile of someone who believes in the character, puffs out his chest and, all proud, responds in that voice that still rises and falls under the influence of puberty hormones: “This, sir, is a preparatory course for the Armed Forces”. Phew, a thousand times Phew, I think. But I don’t. So much more exciting (even if desperate) was the fantasy…!