It’s just before 9:00 on the ring road of Granada. The sun is up, hanging as if from a peg above the snow-tipped Sierra Nevada mountain range, but the cars, it seems, are still in the sleepy shadows of garages and driveways. The quiet is a little unsettling. In theory it’s rush hour, but few are hurrying to work since few have a job to go to. Nevertheless, by 10:00 the class of people that always have a job (should they want one) are emerging from their maid-serviced flats and countryside villas to populate the walkways of Granada city centre.
This morning, the pijos are in their pinstriped suits and pencil skirts. Their patent heels, ties, cufflinks and greased-back hair are all gleaming with various degrees of intensity. That is to say, they’re in their office clothes, yet they’re anywhere but the office. Rather, they’re on their daylong morning coffee break, meeting fellow pijos for a relakzeen café con leche (latte) or dodging crisis-riddled beggars on Recogidas (Granada’s equivalent of Oxford Street) on route to Massimo Dutti.
The Spanish work some of the longest hours in Europe, but rest assured that it’s not the pijos that are bringing up the national working time average. That’s because these people form a special class of people. They are the ruling class, the superior class, the pijo class.
How to be a Spanish pija
What it means to be a woman differs according to a person’s socio-cultural context. Below is a guide to the proper way to be a special type of Spanish woman: a pija. That is to say an (aspiring) middle/upper class snob. This is an important task, since by conforming to the stereotype of a female snob, you will not only perpetuate the oppression of women in general, but also oppress other women and men on the basis of class and race!
“Pijo,” or “pija” in the feminine, encapsulates the meaning of a particularly offensive and Spanish breed of snob. It is not so much to do with one’s wealth (although the appearance of wealth must be maintained), but with one’s attitude: pijos like to aparentar (show off) and exert their sense of superiority (o sea, que les gusta “sentir especiales”).
Pijos can be found in all parts of Spain. They are mostly likely to be spotted at your local Club de Campo (playing padel or golf), Corte Ingles food hall, People’s Party (PP) rally or Opus Dei school. They tend to live off inheritance or have jobs with high salaries, thanks to family connections rather than ability or experience, and thus have money to squander on looking as rich as possible at all times.
Needless to say, pijos’ hobbies include looking down at, and exercising power over, those with less economic means or social status. They are “not racist but” believe los sin papeles (“illegal” immigrants) are the downfall of Spain. They pine for the good old days when El Generalissimo (the dictator Franco) ruled the roost and believe that indigenous South Americans are in the world to serve them, those of Arab origin are here to sell them tea and rugs (but should really get back to “wherever they came from”) and gypsies have “infiltrated” Spain to remind them why the Lamborghini must be locked in the garage at night. If they lived in the UK, pijos would invariably vote UKIP, given their intense hatred of Romanians.
Northern pijos maintain a colonial mentality towards the south. The Southern pijo, on the other hand, tends to own vast agricultural estates (near villages that have not evolved since Franco’s time) on which s/he employs indigenous South Americans on highly exploitative terms.
Like the sound of being a pija? A real pija will tell you that it is impossible to become one (un pijo no se hace, se nace, o sea, “good breeding”), but this isn’t strictly true. As I said above, being pijo is more about attitude than anything else. Here are some top tips, o sea, fijaaate cateta:
1) Pijas love the upper classes of Britain and the Iunis Esteits and, when not talking about their various trips to such parts of the world, try to emanate them in speech. When speaking Spanish, try to insert English words so that you sound posh and cultured, o sea, siempre habla con glamur, que queda super fino! Never lisp your Ss, which is typical of the backward peasants of the south. Oh, and pijos have an impediment which prevents the pronunciation of the letter “b,” saes?
2) Send your children to a private school, so that they are trained to understand that they are better than everyone else, and to increase their chances of gaining enchufes (jobs thanks to nepotism). That way, they will be paid a mint without ever having to do a full day’s work. Their teachers’ may also be kind enough to sit their university entrance exam for them, if paid the right price.
3) Learn to love appropriate musical icons such as David Bustamente, Enrique Iglesias, Victoria Beckham and Justin Bieber, o sea, que su musica es super guay, a que mola tia! Super kool. Watch gossip shows (telebasura) in order to learn the importance of superficiality and two-faced behaviour in your relations with others, O sea que loser, es que es tan cutre que lo flipo en colores!!! Y también es una rubia teñida, Saes??
4) The young pija studies business, law, economics or medicine at her local university. In her free time, she likes to attend nightclubs with chic, foreign names, such as Mae West (pronounced “My Way”) and drink a lot. This can be an expensive business, (o sea, dame dinero mami o papi porfi-please) but is a good chance to show off her latest purchases from Tommy Hilfiger, Lacoste or Ralph Lauren. Incidentally, the official pija shoe is the shiny heel (preferably in beige) however this does change from season to season in order to ensure the greatest amount of capitalist consumerism: read the woman’s supplement of the weekend edition of your La Razón, ABC or La Gaceta newspaper to keep up with what you should be buying.
5) As is often the case in other geographical contexts, beauty ideals in Spain are linked to wealth and status. Pijas should wear their hair straight and long, and preferably bouffant and, if the colouring permits it, blonde highlights. Large pearls are a must, as is a (tight) blouse with the collar turned up, plus a huge, shiny bag and beige jodhpurs (a nod to the English upper classes, o sea supermegafashion oh mi god!!!!). You’ll have lots of time to do your nails at your civil service job where you are paid to do nothing.
6) Your boyfriend should wear a pink or nautical shirt with a brand logo and beige chinos that are a little too tight. A blue jersey should be hung over the shoulders. The older pijo may like to grow sideburns, especially if he lives in Andalusia or the countryside (campo-pijo). His hair should not be too short, should be styled with a side parting, or, if older or a campo-pijo, combed back with lots of gel.
7) When your boyfriend is not with you, he should try and have sex with as many other people as possible, including at the ever-discreet putódromo Club Don Pepe Don José (super-sized brothel appropriately located next to Toys R Us in Granada) or another local massage parlour (the place on the spectrum of consent of the “goods”, from sex worker to enslaved girl child, is not of interest to the pijo) owned by the village mayor. Despite being a closet putero (punter), he should maintain the public front of a catholic believer, o sea un tío muy fiel y muy formal. In the words of The Kinks, he should aim to emulate the impression of “a sophisticated man about town, doing the right things so conservatively.”
8) If you are an aged pija, you should be confident in your queue-jump right. When you get to the bank to check your tenants have paid on time, if you find lots of people waiting, just walk straight to the front of the queue. If the cashier’s already serving someone, go ahead and interrupt. You know you are better than everyone else in the bank, señora, because you inherited half of Gran Vía and you can trace your ancestry back to the medieval conquistadores (Columbus-style colonisers). The older pija is the Queen Bee of pijas. She waits for no one.
So, pija, are you better than the other girls? Does your boyfriend wear Ralph Lauren? Do you think Spain is still at war with the Moors? Yes? You are ready. Go forth, consume and don’t forget to vote PP.