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Our friend Carl Ann Wylie emailed us to ask why our Brazilian music selections last week didn’t include one of the most popular songs to come out of that country – the famous “Girl from Ipanema.” That reminded us, of course, of another story about our visit to Rio de Janeiro.

There was a bar near Ipanema Beach that Antonio Jobim frequented and it was the place where he and collaborator Vinicius de Moraes supposedly saw the beautiful young girl walk by every day on her way to the beach. After the song became so popular, the owners of the place renamed it the Garota de Ipanema bar – Portuguese for the Girl from Ipanema.

On to our story.  We catch a ride with this taxi driver one night, who is delighted to be able to practice his English by talking to us. He tells us about this bar and how famous the song made the bar. And through this
fractured conversation, he informs us that Jobim still frequents the bar – at least that’s what we think he is saying. So we tell him, let’s go there, immediately.

So we do, and he says wait here and goes into the bar and comes out with a very drunk old man with a long unkempt beard and a wrinkled suit. I’m thinking, wow, Antonio Jobim has hit the skids, but who am I to judge a musical genius like him.

So I run up, shake his hand enthusiastically, and tell him, Senor Jobim, I am so honored to meet you! Of course, it turns out not to be Antonio Jobim at all, but some pal of the taxi driver who wants us to hire him to give us a private guided tour of the city. Carmela is sitting in the cab laughing her patootie off, because even though she can’t hear what I’m saying, through my bowing and demeanor, she can pretty much guess.

The story now is on a long list of stories in which I make a fool of myself and my wife teases me unmercifully about it for the rest of my life.

George Lee Cunningham

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