Mr. Rodríguez

 A few days ago I was driving from Bilbao to our summer house near Santander, a 45-minute trip.  It was 4 pm and I was surprised to see so much traffic on the two-lane road that led to our village.

 Then it hit me.  “Of course”, I thought.  “All the traffic is the men that had left work in Bilbao at 3 and were driving to be with their families who are spending their vacation at their summer homes”.  

This thought led me to laugh out loud because I remembered an old Spanish expression:  estar de Rodríguez.

Imagine a husband forced to spend several months by himself in Madrid.  In the old days, these guys would never cook meals, preferring to eat out, followed by a few drinks in a bar where  they would inevitably attempt to polish their interpersonal social skills with the opposite sex.  Of course, these guys would never use their real names for these one-night stands and would give a false name. Since one of the most common surnames in Spanish is ‘Rodríguez’, the story goes that they would use this name and it soon became the expression for married men spending the summer at home:  ‘estar de Rodríguez’.

Being ‘de Rodríguez’ used to bring words of admiration from jealous friends who didn’t have the chance to be temporary bachelors again. However, it’s been some time since I’ve heard this expression.  Maybe it’s because fewer people can afford to send their families to the seaside for the summer months due to the economic crisis, or because wives would rather send their kids to camp and stay at home until the whole family could go on vacation. Or perhaps because modern Spanish wives prefer to keep an eye on their husbands.

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