1. Spanish politicians
It’s not that we love to hate them, it’s just that we don’t have any other option. We never liked our politicians, and the crisis certainly didn’t help. Our politicians seem to inhabit a different country, one in which the crisis is over and people are optimistic. They also clearly live in a country in which they can be corrupt, pay their luxury vacations with public money, and fire the judges who dare to investigate them. Listening to politicians deny undeniable things every day makes it easy to hate them. No one likes to be taken as an idiot.
2. Angela Merkel
We never really cared for foreign politicians, until Ms. Merkel arrived to guide us Europeans with a set of magical rules to overcome the crisis. Except that her magical rules only made us poorer and poorer. Lady Austerity is probably one of the most hated people in Spain right now. Show a picture of her to anyone (anyone!) in the street. You won’t hear many nice words.
3. Meals cooked in butter
Olive oil is the basis of the Mediterranean diet, and we, as producers, are convinced of its healthy benefits and use it fearlessly. Then we go abroad and discover people in other countries cook with butter instead of oil! We are petrified, and scared, and wonder how come these people aren’t all dead because of the fat. It’s the same terrified look those foreigners have on their faces whenever they see us pour all that oil in a pan.
4. Paying taxes
We know what those taxes are for. We know that thanks to them we don’t have to pay if we need a doctor, or if we have to stay at a hospital, or if we have some illness that requires expensive treatment. We also know that taxes pay for public schools and universities, and retired people’s pensions, and many other things.
But that doesn’t mean that we like them: we always complain about how high taxes are and try to find ways of paying less. Of course, all the corruption scandals of politicians paying for expensive personal trips and gifts with our money make it difficult to see taxes as a good thing.
5. People who are good at something
“Envy! This, this is the terrible plague of our societies; this is the intimate gangrene of the Spanish soul.”
Spanish writer Miguel de Unamuno said this in 1909, but he wasn’t the first, nor the last. Ever wondered why we Spanish people have such a terrible accent whenever we speak any other language? There are many reasons, sure, but one of them starts in school, when the kids with good accents are quickly mocked by their classmates (I imagine this doesn’t happen so much anymore).
This attitude pervades so many aspects of life: whenever anyone finds success or stands out at something, the rest of us become suspicious and try to bring him or her back to mediocrity.
6. Those other loud Spaniards when we’re abroad
Tourists hate tourists, and many Spanish people hate all those other Spaniards they see when they’re abroad. We travel, we make local friends, we try to have that “real” experience…and then suddenly we hear someone yelling in Spanish. We look at them full of contempt. “Oh, Spaniards…” we say (as if we weren’t one of them, as if we had never ever spoken a bit too loud in a bus full of silent people). Of course, some other Spaniards love coming across as compatriots and greet each other happily and loudly.
Do you sense the self-deprecating tone of this article? Well, that’s something we Spaniards do a lot. We complain about how uncivilized we are, about how things never work in Spain, about how people love to cheat, to avoid paying taxes, how we attack excellence and applaud mediocrity. And then we compare ourselves to other countries, usually to those in the north, saying “This would never happen in Denmark!”
8. Boring, rightful foreigners
But then we go to Denmark, or some other civilized country, and we come back thinking there’s no place like home. Because, you see, all those rightful people are boring! They don’t know how to party! They don’t speak! They’re always punctual! They cook with butter! They’re so cold and closed! They never smile! They shake hands instead of kissing! They don’t appreciate their families! The list goes on and on until we get tired and go back to scorning ourselves.