Hard to forget the many catchphrases of my youth, like Eh, what's up, Doc? and Heeeeere's Johnny, and the always sturdy Go ahead, make my day. And then there was one of my favorites, Where's the beef?, from Wendy's successful ad campaign to convince the public that Wendy's hamburgers had more meat in them than McDonald's or Burger King's. So popular were the commercials, and so infectious was the catchphrase — not to mention Clara Peller, the woman who delivered it — that even the normally dry and boring Walter Mondale got a big laugh when he used it in a 1984 democratic primary debate against an insubstantial Gary Hart.
There's a hilarious and wildly popular catchphrase making the rounds in Brazil these days. It's Imagina na Copa!, something like If you think this is bad now, just wait 'til the World Cup! At first people used it about traffic jams and chaos in the airports, but as the catchphrase got traction it was expanded to anything that might be bothering you: bad service in restaurants, black-outs, slow mail service, crowded beaches, surly taxi drivers, a bad hair day, in short, anything at all. I admit that I use it as often as I can. It's a terrific way to end a conversation without having to resolve anything, and to get a sure laugh to boot.
To get the full flavor of the catchphrase, watch this very funny YouTube video entitled "Shit Cariocas Say" — a parody of the video called "Shit New Yorkers Say" which, if you haven't yet had the pleasure, can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRvJylbSg7o. The Brazilian version here, with English subtitles, is completely intelligible even if you've never been to Rio or met a carioca (a Rio native). During the course of the video, Imagina na Copa is used about seven times, and each time is funnier than the last.
The irony of this catchphrase is that the World Cup won't even be held in Brazil until 2014. Why are Brazilians trashing their future preparedness level when they have the FIFA Confederations Cup set to kick off in just a few short weeks? The number of Brazilian and foreign fans estimated to attend the Confederations Cup is around 950,000. That ought to test Brazil's mettle. And one month later Brazil will host World Youth Day, the triennial international event organized by the Catholic Church. Number of people expected? I've seen quotes of 2 million, 3 million and 4 million. Any way you look at it, that's a lot of bodies. As for the onslaught of visitors expected for the 2016 Summer Olympics, well, I haven't seen any official attendance estimates yet, but most people think things will be far worse during the Olympics than during the World Cup. Even so, it's Imagina na Copa that's caught everyone's imagination. It's simple, it's rhythmic, it's — well, you know, yada yada yada.