I would tag along with my grandparents on their doctor's appointments, and, although I loved hanging with them (yes, I was weird that way), I loathed the noise that resulted from a room full of old Cubans talking about the old country and their many physical ailments. As more and more "viejitos" would sit down in the waiting room, there was a palpable increase in the decibel levels inside the room. Eventually, it became a shout-fest to see who could talk the loudest (usually the oldest curmudgeon in the room won out).
Once I began to get over my fear of loud Cubans, I really started to enjoy being around them. Sure they were loud (and some were even obnoxious), but they were, for the most part, fun, well-meaning and oddly informative. Some were downright wise. There's nothing that a loud Cuban loves more than to spout out small tidbits of wisdom called "refranes". My grandfather was a grand aficionado of famous Cuban refranes. His favorite one was "Dime con quién andas, y te diré quién eres". Basically it means a man is measured by the company he keeps. He used it to lovingly lecture me on the importance of picking my friends. I find it ironic that he loved that refran the best seeing as how most of the company my grandfather kept was made up of loud-mouthed Cubans who were anything but intellectuals. Their idea of being smart and clever was telling a good, dirty joke and knowing how to fix their broken-down cars without the aid of a mechanic. Irony, you are indeed a b---h!
I never judged my grandfather by the company he kept because he was every man's friend. He was incapable of slighting anyone, and that's why everyone wanted to be his friend. He didn't have a judgemental bone in his body. Little did he know that his favorite refran would shape all of my future relationships and the way I pick and choose my friends to this day.
I can count my true friends on one hand with a few fingers left over. And that's fine with me. Good friends are about quality, not quantity. I know I'll never be everyone's friend like my grandfather was. I'm simply too judgemental for that to be my reality.
In the end, I'm a self-righteous know-it-all who thinks she's better than most people and doesn't mind telling everyone just that. Oh, and I'm also a loud Cuban. HA! I've finally embraced my Cuban roots, abuela. I know you're proud of me up there in what I am sure is an equally loud, Cuban-infested heaven ;-)