The Lighter Side of Iberia

Michener Iberia

In Michener’s book Iberia, about his travels in Spain and Portugal, he relates a popular joke that Spaniards told each other during the fascist reign of Franco, one that shines a light on the compatibility of fascism and American corporate capitalism:

francisco franco dictator of spain

Generalisimo Franco was traveling through the countryside when his coach broke down.  Desiring to know what his people thought, he walked alone to a farmer and said, ‘How’re things?’ and the farmer said, ‘Lousy.  The government doesn’t know its ass from its elbow.’  Franco became angry and said, ‘Don’t you know who I am? and the farmer said, ‘I’ve seen your face somewhere before,’ and Franco said, ‘You’ll find my name on all the principle streets, everywhere.’  The farmer dropped his plow and said, ‘Oh!  Senor Coca Cola!’

don quixote

Earlier in the book, I found another hilarious moment, this time Michener’s unbiased and objective appraisal of Spaniards and Spanish culture:

I have found that whenever I am perplexed about what a Spaniard might do under certain circumstances, or the nation as a whole for that matter, it is instructive to ask, ‘Under these circumstances what would a man do who subscribed to an acute or even a preposterous sense of honor?’ And from endeavoring to answer this question I often find clues as to what the Spaniard will do.