Sunday, December 4, 2011

O João me deu bolo

***update*** After consulting my dictionary (oops, should have done it first) and reading comments and then talking to our housekeeper, I've learned that this kind of "bolo" does not bring to mind cake.  Even thought the highly educated coordinator at the school told me it meant cake, I stand corrected.  But I'm keeping this post, mainly because I like the picture of the cake.

I learned a helpful phrase last week.  I was talking to the coordinator at our school, and I asked her about microphones for the upcoming presentation.  She told me that the sound guy had called her Monday, scheduled an appointment for Tuesday, and never showed up.  She said he gave her cake, thinking that it meant the same thing in English.  Huh?  So she explained that if someone says they will come to a meeting/show up for an appointment/fix your leaky faucet/meet you for coffee and they don't show up, you'd say, "ele me deu bolo," or literally, "he gave me cake."  I like this image, taking an unfortunate, far too common experience, and making it "sweet."

I wish that I didn't have so many opportunities to use this expression, but you remember the leak in the bathroom that I started mentioning back in September?  Well, finally the source of the leak was repaired.  Then we had to wait for it to dry.  Then we had to wait for the painter/repair man to come.  Then he came, but he has to come back to do another coat of paint.  Well, during the past almost 3 months, we'll just say that I've had LOTS and LOTS of cake.  And that was just vazamento (leak) cake.  I've not mentioned anything about pest control cake.  Or broken faucet cake.  Or João cake.  João from the rental company gives me the most cake of all.  I should start calling him the bolo man.

Which makes me think I've got to make my list of people to call tomorrow to try to haggle them to show up or fix problems.  Wish me luck!


  1. Shelley,

    Bolo in Portuguese also means "confusion", it gives the idea of a "tangled mess", like a "ball of tangled yarn". I am afraid "bolo" in this case doesn't really mean a "sweet thing".



  2. "Dar bolo" was one of the first idioms I learned in Portuguese after a friend stood me up during my first month in Fortaleza.

    "Bolo" is quite common in Brazil. My poor neighbor has been waiting for the TV guy to install his antenna for several weeks...