créditos: Max Gonçalves


“Yo no creo em brujas, pero que las hay, las hay.”
(Spanish proverb)


Vinícius de Moraes repeated that all the time, especially when he was trying a new date, get a new girlfriend, live the crazy life.

I used to answer: - What’s that about, poet? Superstition?

And he used to say: - Women who are witches are worse than the ones from Bahia, they charm you, and you can never get out. Only if there’s too much crying involved, or by taking a herbal bath.

And we kept drinking, because it was after 10 am anyway, and it was Wednesday. We once tried to define what a witch entailed. We were in our eternal Ipanema, at one of those pubs by the beach, and Tom discussed about my choice of Shirley Horn singing “Come a little closer” as one of the world’s best jazz songs. Vinícius, serious and hangover, said his favorite sentence: - That woman’s a witch!

And, from the poet’s categorical saying, we started talking about it and we decided we should try and describe a woman-witch, as well as create an instruction manual against them.

- A woman-witch is always either tall or fat, the thin, little ones are no danger.

- What about the one who’s tall and thin?

- That’s dangerous.

- The blond ones? Can they be witches?

- Of course. The Vikings. The most dangerous ones. They transform themselves. They kiss without ever losing the cold, empty eyes, always in a different world.

- What about the mixed-raced ones?

- Ah, nah. These are witches of nature, they move as snakes and laugh as women in their period. They eat you from the inside, and smell of rosemary.

- But how do you know if they are witches or not, after all?

- Man, that’s tough. They know how to disguise. There are men who are married for 60 years who still haven’t found out. One of these days a friend of mine broke his leg while he walked. Just like that, out of the blue. He wasn’t even drunk or anything. He wasn’t staring a woman’s butt, nothing like that. He was just walking like a vain Spanish, and bam! He fell, broke his ankle, arm, nose, a disaster! We found out at the hospital that he was married to a witch. Sixteen years and he thought he was happy, going stray from time to time, but nothing serious. He used to call her “my love” and even kissed her on the mouth. And then one day he won the lottery, not much money, but he didn’t share his win with the woman-witch, and you know what happened. He broke his bones all over the place. She was brunette, tall, steamy, she had seduction pouring through her eyes, and she was a witch.

- Anyway, we got to protect ourselves. Let’s write a handbook against them. You understand a lot about women, you write them songs, some of you are in love, reciting your verses and the maestro’s songs, and they are all out there, threatening. We must solve this soon, today!


Vinícius got serious, he was having his second whisky, he needed three to fix the hangover, but two already did him good. He still couldn’t write any poetry, but he could definitely right a handbook against witches.

We took some paper, got a pen from the waiter, and as most pens from waiters, it was almost ink-less. We placed the piece of paper on the middle of the table, we put our glasses aside, we dried the area around it, and we started thinking as if we were smart businessmen.

The energy was coming to us when a girl from the other world stopped and asked, very kindly, an autograph for the poet and the maestro. She even turned to me, and asked: - Do you do anything at all? Are you famous?

I replied the way I always did: - No, I’m just their ballet instructor. There are dancing really well! – She looked back at me, spooked, shook her body and went to the sea.

Ipanema was still Ipanema. It smelled like sea air, and had small buildings, lots of houses, countryside air, and many beautiful women. The tiny bikinis started to pop up, and the pier was there, the can was only a month old, and still the subject of all conversations.

The can, for those who don’t know, happened because an African freight ship, quite an old one, was chased by the marine guard, and threw in the sea, right in Ipanema, a loading of cans filled with one of the world’s best marijuana.

The tide brought these cans to the shore, and with that, on a nice, sunny, morning, in the sands of one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, all you needed to do was grab a can and stay happy for many days.

After a while the can-hunters emerged, who charged a fee to dive after the treasure. The news talked about over 30.000 cans, and there were already about 100.000 forgeries. A bodywork in Marechal Hermes, in Rio’s suburb, delivered the can with the product inside, it actually came smelling of sea and salt, starting to rust, a perfect job!

After the interruption we discussed for another 15 minutes about the woman’s amazing curves, and we ended up giving it grades, because the maestro always complained about our absolute lack of taste to women.

- Women must have rhythm, they got to shake it right, it’s nonsense to only have booties and thighs and a beautiful breast, there’s got to be more, you are getting old, anything burned with a husky voice you give an A. C’mon! An A is for a muse, I give A to Edith Piaf, who’s ugly, but a hell of a woman!

And then we all agreed, who wouldn’t give an A to Edith Piaf. We also agreed on a B+ to the woman who went by, and we went back to the subject of our meeting, the handbook against witches.

- We should open the handbook with a statement – said the poet – we can’t start condemning. We can’t condemn women, we should understand them, run away from them if needed, but never condemn them.

We agreed to that. After all, if the witch is pretty, why condemn her? After three caipirinhas, we exchanged the drinks because the poet’s hangover was over – we still hadn’t written a word. The paper was there, the pens were there, but the text wasn’t.

We tried to focus when a car went by with a Fluminense flag. Then we joined in, “go, Flu!”. I said out loud, we had Rivelino in Maracanã after all. The poet, who supports Vasco, looked at me with a devastating contempt and pulled out: - Are we here to work or to talk foolish? If you like Rivelino so much, go and work as the ball boy to stay close to him, giving him the ball, your hero.

As usual, this unexpected sentence led us to discuss soccer. It took over 10 caipirinhas and many beautiful women passing by before we finally returned to the content of our meeting, the handbook against witches.

But it was impossible to stop, we couldn’t reach any agreements, we even used hard words to defend our passions. Maestro, who supported Fluminense like I did, gave strong opinions against the poet’s Vasco spirit, and suddenly an unknown guy seated on the table beside ours, got into the conversation and started talking about Flamengo, that was when things got ugly.

- You are not part of this meeting, stop talking, respect our space – said the poet, with the authority of his white hair.

- You’re all stupid, everybody can talk, just because we’re not famous we have to stay quiet? This is a pub, and it doesn’t belong to you.

Since the subject was exploding, Manuel, the Portuguese, owner of the pub, a Vasco supporter, requested silence and offered free drinks to all of us if we changed the subject and stopped fighting. He received an ovation, vows of love and other rounds, after all, who doesn’t like drinking for free in a pub in Ipanema!

We were back to our subject, and since the poet said Saturday was coming, we decided to hurry. Each one of us would write about 5 lines for an introduction, and then we would compare and edit it, and with that we would write the handbook in six hands, a real German salad.

I got focused and started to work. I understood nothing about witches, and a little about women. I was always in love with someone. At a given day I was capable of having over three great passions, all for my whole life. I used to wake up the next day, write poetry, play music, go to the beach, tell everyone about my passions from yesterday, and by sundown I had already forgotten everything.

With that I started thinking and writing about how would this woman-witch be, and something like this came up: “A woman is always a woman. Don’t be fearful. It’s great being in love. All of them deserve that, even the witches! The caring you must have is simple. Against a woman-witch, all caring is little. Don’t mind the heart, for she’ll take it anyway: be careful about your freedom because that, even with a compromised heart, must be kept. A witch likes taking away this freedom, and she doesn’t do it on a whim, she goes little by little, with smells, swings, the way she makes love, warm words, she holds you and when you noticed you see the beach has been forgotten, the pub is never there and even the friends have been left behind.”

“Preserve the joy, and don’t abandon your friends. A woman-witch likes some sadness here and there, she likes scaring us with command words. Even after you realize she’s a witch, keep your balance and the words of affection. Permanent tenderness and affection are capable of quieting the witch and diminishing the strength of her magic acts.”

“When in love, the woman-witch can help you. Give her the command and spend your days making love. Let her use you as her sex toy, the finances will grow. Maintain your freedom and happiness, and don’t hide anything. They know it all, even the safe’s password.”

“Once you get tired of her, don’t break plates not share CDs. Spread tears, cry because you miss her even before you miss her, look dispirited, lonely and sad. If she asks why and how, tell her it’s for her own sake, that you are suffering in order for her to have a brighter future, that you’re not enough for her. Overdo your mistakes, say you have always dreamed of a woman like her, but time made you loose that right.”

“Grieve for a month. Don’t go to pubs nor to the beach. While having sex, hide. Keep your music down, as if you were praying. Never show signs of joy during the grieving period, and only drink pure vodka. It’s marvelous against witchcraft.”

“Don’t fall in love during this period, for blondes, only brunettes. And they should be tall and strong. Preferably witches too, witch against witch is trouble, and you’re going to make love like a lion.”

“Don’t attempt going to any soccer games, your team will lose. Lottery, no way. Poker, never. The grieving period is serious, and without it the witches realize something is wrong and you never get up again.”

“Always walk on the right, the left is only for politicians. Don’t ever cross the traffic lights, someone will probably hit you. Always cross away from the lights, and don’t look at the cars, they’ll stop.”

“After the 30 days of grieving, give a big party. With tasty meat and red wine. Lots of music and poetry, because you’re finally free again and the witchcraft is over. Make love with a blonde one, get attached, fall in love, speak out loud and kiss her everywhere. Look for your friends, tell stories, laugh at all times. A caipirinha is always welcome, and every day of the week will be Saturday.”

“But remember: there’s no medicine against witches, there are no vaccines, and even the blonde from the celebration may be one. Be all there, knowing that the world is the greatest passion of those who are alive.”

“Don’t forget the affection, the small gifts, the sweet words, and hidden flower, that song which speaks the heart, romance. Witches can’t resist to romance, even with all the magic she’s all there, and never tell her you already had another witch, they like being the one ones.”

When I stopped writing, the poet and the maestro started applauding.

- How can you focus so much? We’re in Ipanema, my friend, the center of the world and of beautiful women. Two hot ones passed by, witches, therefore pretty, and Manuel gave us more free drinks, and Rivelino scored two more goals, and you’re there, writing. A phenomenon, my friend. Your text is unanimously approved. Let’s print it and distribute if for free at the beach.

- What about you, you didn’t write anything?

- What for? It’s almost Saturday and we don’t want to work.

- I was explored – I declared, offended.

- Manuel, two more free caipirinhas for our writer, also call that blonde who’s by the bar.

- Blonde, no way! – I replied – It’s getting late, and at this time all I want are brunettes.

The maestro got us, and solemnly said:

- The publication and reading of the handbook against witches is delayed until tomorrow. Until then, every woman in the world are free to love, and us, fearless men, have total freedom to fall for them.

Then he left with his rhythmical steps, his maestro steps. The poet looked at me and made the question he always made.

- It’s night, time to drink, don’t you think?

- Where?

- Let’s go to Rond Point in Copacabana, and then let’s listen to good music, and if we’re lucky we’ll meet some witches to learn how they behave.

We went to Copacabana and, as usual, we woke up next to two wonderful witches.

Why should we write a handbook against that? I considered it, looked again to my blonde witch, and surrendered to a passion without remorse.

As Vinícius would say: - Oxalá!


Max Gonçalves

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