Monday, November 3, 2008
El CuCui/Latin Bogey Man
Many of us hispanics grew up with the terror of being devoured by El Cucui at night. Although no one ever claimed to have actually seen it, we knew he was horrific, and voracious for young children to eat. We loved to play at dark, especially in the orchard across the road from my mother's house, or alongside the railroad tracks, or down at the nearby Tuolumne River, but all it took for us to race home, was someone saying "Did you hear that!? It's the cucui!!" Laying in bed at night, with the lights out, any sound of the wind or branches scraping against the walls of the house was "El Cucui!" And we would snuggle deeper under our blankets. Moms would scold us saying: "Portate bien o te va llevar El Cucui!" The thought of being carted off by a monstrous Cucui, just for being disobedient was terrifying. I tried it on my own kids but it didn't seem to work as well as it did for us. Somehow, they could not quite conjure up the horrific images of some child-eating monster like our imaginations could. Maybe they have seen too many horror films?