The Whopping Birimbão

What a Birimbão is? Hard to say univocally. It’s a song, an exotic wild instrument, perhaps a place or a particular mood of the soul. Supposedly Brazilian or at least Portuguese-speaking, many would maintain it is Iberic if not Spanish. In my experience Birimbão is a little of all these, but it is above all a nickname-cover of a “young” scholar whose roots are in Southern Italy, a region once upon a time dominated by the Borbonic Royal family from which, who knows?!, maybe the Birimbão came from as an offshoot.

The list of vignettes that Birimbão created is endless, and I’ll try to resume some of them from the memory of my previous blog from Splinder (once known, I got rid of Birimbão, it is a prickly being). For instance, in the name of hippie culture and leftism, a Birimbão is able to share a cab with you paying his half with few Euro nickels-coins (Birimbão is a male, but National Geographic never gave full certainty). He pretends you to work hard while he spends hours at other hippie’s houses for lunch, hoping to find a way to have an affair. In the name of solidarity he might be generous when bargaining a contract, but asks you to leave your office because he is meeting there a woman with whom he has a relationship (although she is not aware of that). Obviously, when talking to other people he is eager to underline the rank distance with you. He may be generous in inviting you in his house for a lunch, but when he complains that you never invited him, he fails to realize that he has an open invitation anytime he is not using: he needs to use this misbalance as a jolly to complain against you. Once he asks you to buy a book, he believes it’s ok not to give you the money in advance: of course he will pay as the proof of the purchase is tangible. When the book is delivered of course he is surprised that you claim the money back (the lunch misbalance is a never-will-be-consumed credit he will show up loudly). Once he finds a way to have a long and stable relationship with a woman, he is devoted in betraying her the most often he can. If a call for a grant is open, you might be quite sure that he will try to find out who is to be his friend in the bureaucratic machine and he will give a genuine present to this person from his countryside (i.e. olive oil). If you wanted to publish a scientific with him (what a crazy endeavor!), it’s better you’d know in advance that you have to write, and he will just correct few things: “cause I am the first author” is his explanation. So far, a funny human being you may laugh at.  [The list might go on, but I cut here]


What is less funny is the behavior I remember when competition grants for students were published still as wallpapers in the corridors of universities, instead of pdf files. In those occasions he used to phone his closest friends giving the details, and a moment later to tear off the announcements in order not to have “improper competition”. Another time he was rammed by people who were police not in service. The story, a tribunal one, was favorable to him at the end… but why policemen did so? Deeds reported he provoked them… Last episode. Once I complained about the small budget we got in cash for the ordinary costs of the module we were working for as adjunct lecturers. He was not adjunct lecturer, he wanted just to use the office for his own purposes and his boldness was very welcome in the name of hippie inspired compulsory etiquette. Well, once told the story of the shortage of money he asked where the money were and – knowing my naïve essence – he ordered me to leave the room for a while. As I was back, by instinct I had to ask why and I felt to need to check the hidden money. He ordered not to check by physical force and insulted me with some pitiful tone by saying “Hey, I didn’t think you were dumb to this extent”. I left the place. The Birimbão’s rule is that of the jungle and when the robbery came out (he stole the money indeed…) it was very embarrassing to me to deduce the events. You know how much money we are talking about? 50€! F I F T Y !

How can a person like this still dwell in academic habitat after so many years? Wouldn’t savannah be more appropriate? Am I the stranger if I believe this person is weird in an university?

I hope my daughter will never meet a Birimbão in her life and you can believe me, if I really had to warn her with an exemplification of the Evil, instead of a Boogeyman I’ll cite the “Whopping Birimbão”!