I feel today is a good day to at long last come clean.
I know I’ve told you guys — told everyone, really — that I was born and raised in Portugal. It’s time to reveal that this is in fact impossible because there is no such country.
If you think about it for maybe ten seconds it should be obvious, of course. Look, the country is supposed to be an afterthought on the edge of Spain and — to tip you the wink — the profile where it’s supposed to meet the sea looks exactly like the face of a grumpy old man. In fact, precisely the kind of grumpy old man who would make up the existence of a whole country and keep it going to pull your leg and make you believe that it really exists.
We all met men like this. Unfortunately in my case, it’s my dad, who has the world’s worst sense of humor, and who, of course, wasn’t even an old man — or grumpy — when he pulled the strangest pranks on me, such as the time he convinced me that all the extra snot you get when you are sick was because snot is brain lubrication (I swear I’m not making this up. He did) and when you’re sick you make extra lubricant to cool the brain. I was thirty when I casually mentioned this to my husband, and he cracked up. Later, I asked dad how he could have told me that ridiculous story and he looked puzzled and said “I never thought you’d believe it.”
Ladies and gentlemen: I was six. Of course I believed it.
Well, I suspect Portugal started like that. Probably the kings of Spain, France and England were having a rousing argument or something, and getting drunk, and suddenly one of them started chuckling and said, “Hey, Felipe!” (All kings of Spain are named Felipe, by law. No one knows whose law, but there it is) “What if we made people believe there was an extra country at the edge of your country, between you and the sea. Not the whole length, you know, just at the bottom?”
“Are you nuts Henry?” (Almost all kings of England are named Henry, of course. Or were till one of them decided to make a sport of chopping off his wives heads.) “Hey, Henri,” (A lot of the kings of France were named Henri. when they got tired of people confusing them with Henry, because people could never remember to pronounce it “Han-ree” (Like Han Solo, but they never host first) the switched it over to Louis, which they pronounced Loo-eee (Look, the French are very weird people, and I say this as someone who has at least some French ancestry) and ran up quite a number before they chopped the last one’s head. Monarchies and chopping people’s heads go together like…. like axes and a lot of screaming.) “Get that wine away from Henry. He obviously has had enough.”
“No, no, guys, listen,” Henry said. “We can pretend that all the discoveries were done by this tiny little country, who then does nothing of import ever again. And we can have fake wars and stuff, you know? ‘Oh, we’d totally do that, but Portugal won’t let us. And you know, Portugal has a fearsome navy!'”
Henri and Felipeb– who often confused themselves for the other, because they forgot the pronunciation raised the usual objections — “But won’t people notice there’s nothing there?”
“Of course not, Felipe. You just hire some actors and have them talk Spanish with a funny accent, like Russian or something, and tell people they’re Portuguese. No one will never know. Think about it. We can all get together and laugh at them.”
As we know they decided to go ahead with it. And people bought it, improbable history and all. I mean what are the chances that a country the size of your bathmat would discover most of the now known world? And if they had that kind of genius, what are the chances they would never invent anything else ever ever again, and their primary exports would be wine and cork?
Though of course, in later years, the governments that replace the monarchies, made a good thing of it. Portugal became sort of an attraction, an amusement park of a country, displaying whatever ideas were fashionable at the time, from national socialism to international socialism, and being, you know, very colorful and obvious, and theatrical.
It is only now, that Covid-19 has closed tourism, that Spain has realized this was a losing enterprise and it is time to come clean before the world.
Their prime minister wired the French Premier (or the other way around. Their republics have confusing position names) who wired the prime minister of England who said in a grumpy ton, “I guess. Do whatever.”
And so today the world’s newspaper are filled with the exploding of the Portugal hoax.
As one of the actors, raised from birth to play my part, as we said “Para Ingles ver” (For the Englishman to see) I want to apologize to the world for my fractional part in the deceit.
There is no Portugal. Portugal is and was an improbable hoax, piled with an even more improbable history and with a ridiculous explanation for that history and for why they never did anything else worthwhile on the world stage.
Now you know.
Me? I’m just waiting till they come clean about the EU.