“As bifas gostam”

It is said that opposites attract and this was certainly the case when my daughter fell head over heels in love, at the tender age of three.

The boy in question was the same age and her feelings for him were entirely reciprocated. She was petite and very fair; he was dark-eyed, dark-haired and sturdily built. They were inseparable. According to the ladies at the pre-school they both attended, there was a lot of hand-holding and eventually my daughter divulged that a kiss had taken place in one of the school’s Wendy houses. It was time for parental intervention.

Our solution was to facilitate chaperoned outings, which required making contact with the parents of our daughter’s suitor. The mother was a very pleasant, friendly woman. The father, a swarthy diamond in the rough and a man of few words. They were just as amused as we were by the pint-sized love story that was unfolding. It was our miniature Juliet’s father that took it the hardest; a defining moment being when, walking them both to Romeo’s house, she let go of Daddy’s hand in order to take the hand of her beau. Her father was devastated – he’d lost his little princess to another, who was quite literally not even half the man he was.

The romance continued until the end of that school year, until a cruel twist of fate – our decision to transfer our daughter to the pre-school attached to the primary school our son was already attending – separated them.

We dined out on this story for months, but never once doubted the bond this pair had formed. While recounting the story to a female Portuguese friend, my husband also let slip that I had expressed the view that, like the boy, his dark-skinned and enigmatic father was not bad-looking at all. Her response? “Pois! As bifas gostam” (Of course! English women like that). And I have to concede that, in the case of these two bifas, she was absolutely right.

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