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FUSIONED - DIRECTED - WRITTEN AND CORRESPONDED BY: MENASSA 2002
DON'T KNOW HOW TO SPEAK BUT WE DO IT IN SEVERAL LANGUAGES
GRIS, IS A PRODUCT
INDIO GRIS Nº 90
WITH THE POET
February 10th, 2002
Salamanca: At 13, you
entered the bar, at 14 you had already read Faulkner, you were reading Marx, at
what age did you enter the marine force? At 21? When did you publish your first
Oscar Menassa: If we skip the period from 13 to 20, we lose the story with
the prostitute, Beatriz , which took place at 14.
What can you tell us about your 14 years?
I had such bad luck when I was small, that this girl who worked as a prostitute
(there are people that work as that), one day met me and fell in love with me.
Poor me! Not poor her but poor me. Then I took care of her, I took medicines for
her son, for her companions, it was because of this relationship with this girl
that I took up studying Medicine. Because I had to take her son, her aunt, etc.
under my wing, I always got her medicines, taking advantage of my mother working
in a hospital. My mother asked me, "but why do you want so many medicines,
are you going to get ill? " and I answered her "they are not for me,
mother". She understood, well she understood relatively, she would have
preferred all the medicines in the world to be for her.
That was my first experience with prostitution, I never got laid with the girl,
my friends did, that's why I knew that she was a prostitute. I went to the
hookers bar where she worked and we chatted, I was completely in love with her,
until she threatened me with leaving prostitution. Then, at that time , as you
may recall I was a neighbourhood boy, I became afraid because she wanted to stop
You had already learnt that you had to work in order to eat.
She said that she wanted to leave prostitution, and that was the only thing she
was good at, what was I going to do? What happened, you didn't like it? I
understood that one of you thought very bad of me. Later you are going to go
around saying that I like women working as hookers.
What did you study at that time?
In 1954 I was dismissed from my courses leading to my bachelor's degree, the
next year I had a mishap with a Peronist girl… and the professor expelled me,
I was expelled from school.. I was a very Peronist youth and she was a
Peronist…and then the liberating revolution came, where they killed a lot of
people, but it was great for me because they said that I had been expelled for
political reasons and I was reincorporated with all the subjects approved.
Her name was Máxima. She was very tiny and then all the mess started because
each time I addressed her I called her Minima, she was such a tiny girl and I
was ashamed to call her Máxima. The question was that I was living in a
contradictory way, because my sister Elsa, for example, was in May square with a
six-month pregnancy under the bombs and the shooting of the liberating
on the other hand I had to be happy because I had got rid of a problem, because
to sit for exams of all the subjects would have been impossible. Although I
recall very well that two of the professors were in love with me, the math
professor, she was very hopeful that I would sit for the exams of all the
subjects, but that one didn't want to give me any chance, but of course she said
that I was a very intelligent boy, she wanted to kill me.
And then you were in…?
Third year. Afterwards things were very easy, because there was a very brilliant
era… there was a sort of euphoria and we started to shoot films at school…,
I say this for you to tell Miguel Martinez.
For him not to believe that he is unique.
He was very amusing.
What happened in the country then? Who was in the government?
What I can remember is that in 1950, San Martín's
anniversary, someone brought a fridge to my house, I remember it because
it had a label surrounding it that read "1950, Year of the Liberator,
General Don José de San Martín".
lived with a troglodyte family, during all my childhood we lived without a
phone, it seemed natural to us. We said "look, people use the
telephone", but it wasn't something good for us.
When they brought the fridge, how old were you?
Ten years old, I had worked, I was put in jail and about love I won't tell you
because all women are jealous.
How long had you been at the institute?
From 12 to 17. I spent a lot of money. Close to where I studied there was a
clandestine lottery place where you could bet with a particular person, the last
two numbers or the three last numbers.
And at 17, what interesting things happened at that time?
I spent a lot of money and I didn't have money, now in Buenos Aires it is
official, but the question was that some lotteries were clandestine gambling
were called punt. What was clandestine about it? That you could bet with a
particular person the last two or three numbers. Then if you betted the last
number you were paid well for what you had gambled, if you betted the last two
ciphers they paid you seventy times your money, if you betted the last three
ciphers, some paid you four hundred times your money, and others five hundred
What do you mean by a "particular person"?
To an individual who was not allowed by the State to receive bets, he was
clandestine. The lottery belonged to the State. It's just to tell you that I did
that kind of work.
Did you do that? Because you spent a lot of money.
Well, the fact that I spent a lot of money wasn't related to the work I did. I
spent a lot of money, so I had to do some sort of work. I stole quite a lot from
my father, but I felt that it wasn't much money and on top of that my mother who
was a scandalous person, made a
big row each time I stole from him.
I tell you the story with my father? One day he caught me when I was stealing
money from him. Because he kept the money in a very strange way, in a very dirty
carton at the sight of any person and of course I took the money away. One day
he saw me and he said to me " but son, isn't the money I give you
enough?", he said nothing but that: " isn't the money I give you,
enough?; I told him: "no". "Then you will have to go to
work". Don't tell me he wasn't great, another father would have killed me.
What a laugh! "Isn't the money I give you, enough?, he didn't understand.
Your father was moderated with that question of the money, he was too much of a
I don't know what you mean. He was a worker, and because he was a worker, to
earn money was very hard for him. He got up at 2 in the morning and returned at
12 noon. He carried with him two cases that weighed 70 kilograms each, one in
each hand. An athlete, you could say. He came back at 12, ate, slept a nap and
afterwards he went to buy the merchandise he had to sell the next day. And
afterwards, as he sustained an Arabic theory, when he retired he looked for
another job, because he said that he was going to die if he didn't work. And God
knows, he might have died because he stopped working, well, anyway he had to
die, but he could have survived another year.
Is that why you prepared your next 50 years of work?
I did, I learnt well, besides, I'll slap in the face whoever says that I'm going
That one can't retire, that everything falls. Well, how was it? When your father
worked as a punt picker. The first thing I happened to think about, like any
youngster, was to swindle the owner, the smuggler, the chief of the punt agents.
is a young man that swindles the chief of the betting businessmen? Very easy. He
studies the Sunday horse races and says: number four can't win. Then all the
wagers that are for number four, he keeps them instead of phoning the chief to
tell him:"3,000 tickets to number four, 4,000 tickets to number four".
He says nothing to him because he has studied the case very well and knows that
that horse can't win. Then I studied very well and said to myself: this horse
can't fucking win" and I kept all the tickets. But at that time this man
was very powerful. I had kept a fortune for me, almost the value of a house, and
what happened?, the number four won and I had kept all the tickets, and I didn't
know what to do, I considered myself a dead man. But as this man was very
pleased with me, I was the only student in his working force, I decided to face
him. I called him on the phone and
said to him: "you know that I forgot to pass a bet that is precisely
the horse that won?" and he said nothing to me, just: "I hope that
this is the last time".
In last Sunday's interview you said that cowardliness is always paid dearly.
Me, a coward? I only was a coward towards women, because as I told you the other
day that if you say no to them once, they don't use you any more. I have one
cowardliness, I prefer to be used. Go and ask around, men say that women don't
use them for anything…
And, any woman from that time, with the Mafioso?
Yes, of course, the woman smuggler of the group. When this man, a powerful man,
realised that I was dating this woman, he called me apart and told me:
"Before she tells you, I tell you: I loved this woman madly, but I only
kissed her once, I had to take her to Copacabana beach, you'll get to know that
was just a boy and they treated me as a man, don't you see that he treats me as
an old man? This always happened to me. So that when I become 130, if I reach
this age, the world will treat
me in a different way, because they will have to have some recognition
for me. What do you expect, that they recognise me now, that everybody reaches
60? But at 130 it's different and then, when they practise an exam on me, all
the ionic equilibrium will be different.
What is that about the ionic equilibrium?
Yes, that you have so much potassium and so much sodium… Because I'm leading a
war against modern physics since 60 years ago. The only thing that man can't
attain is to be immortal, the rest of the human things, I think that man can do.
What happens is that man prefers not to be able to do this and go on thinking
that he is immortal. Now nature is taking revenge, it was thought that man had
completely dominated nature and now nature kills him. It floods the houses, it
provokes earthquakes where he doesn't expect them, it sends people to live next
to the rivers and after it floods them. It isn't that nature has grown and has
made itself human and powerful, it's man who has to be blamed for it…I had a
friend who was a fisherman since he was very little, and he didn't get into the
sea for fear that the fish may take revenge.
Have you known many people that had theories and philosophies about life, I mean
persons from the people?
You ask about it ingenuously, but everybody has some theory to live. That is
because of sexuality. Sexuality is so different in each human being that it
allows, (because everything is organised around sexuality), to organise life
according to the sexuality I posses. But as each sexuality is different, because
it depends on the imaginary of the individuals and you may know that there are
some studious people who are studying this problem that say that a machine could
get two equal particles in 50,000 years from now, to say there can't be two
equal persons nor equal structures. What is imaginary is that so private, so
private, in the end, so personal…
going to explain to you about number three. For example, the number three has
its symbolic representation and its imaginary representation. The same as with
the red colour, we all have a symbolic representation of red, but if they ask
what red is for us, they will find out that they are different things. With
number three, I always think of the three musketeers, who were four. However,
for me, those four are the imaginary representation of number three.
Let's go on.
But it seems that you aren't amazed by anything, I'm telling you that at 18 the
Mafiosi spoke to me as if I were one of them and I was a medicine student, that
my lover was a smuggler, her previous lover was a
Mafia capo, he came and excused himself because he had kissed my
girlfriend two years ago, what do you want me to tell you? Make a story with me,
how many film scripts are you going to write?
I am interviewing you, those are posterior projects, besides my function isn't
to be amazed nor be pleased with anything but to question.
Why did they treat you as an adult person?
Because I wanted it. At 13 or 14 I went into the Mar del Plata Casino, where
they ask for documents only to people they think are under aged.
Did you look older?
Moreover I had the face of a jerk, so I looked older, a fig face, I was already
a writer. What young man is not schizophrenic? If on top of it you are a writer
it's all set. You approach psychoanalysis, you know that your illness is called
operative dissociation, and you are already cured.
nerve twisting in bends.