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Personality of the Month: The Dandy

EL DANDY

El Dandy2

By Jade Arroyo

The nickname “Dandy” is more than an affectionate moniker for Carlos Arana. This name he goes by epitomizes his personality, his sartorial panache. For he is a dandy as in the days of yore—always bearing a hat and a cane and a sardonic smile.

El Dandy was born in San Miguel de Allende more than seven decades ago, and few can escape his nimble eyes and unstoppable congeniality. You could say that El Dandy knows who everyone is in town. He makes friends even with the most shy.

To recount his life chronologically is difficult; given the countless professions and trades he has practiced throughout his life. Currently, many recognize him selling Atención every Friday morning or lottery tickets, with their promises of wealth, on calle Correo, where he plays the role of goalie and official guardian of the building.

The nickname “El Dandy” comes from his early childhood. His mother liked to dress him totally in white. When she saw him looking so smart, she congratulated him, saying, “You look like a little dandy,” and the name stuck. “Even my family calls me ‘Dandy,’” he said.

Around the age of 10–12, he began to work as an apprentice baker while still in school. He followed in the footsteps of his grandfather, Juan Arana, at don Miguel Sierra bakery. Since then, he has continued working every day of his life, if not necessarily in the same profession in which he started. He has tried several trades: mechanic (his least favorite, because it did not allow him to keep his clothing nice), waiter, carpenter, shoemaker, haberdasher, and on and on. This jack-of-all-trades has even been a model. One of his most famous portraits was done by photographer Russell Monk. Perhaps, above all, we can say that his real profession is being a salesman, doing business.

Among all these chambas (jobs) he’s had, he finally decided to settle on being a barber and hairdresser. It seemed to be an ideal career for him: it was clean, and it allowed him to express his fashionable mien and further cultivate the art of conversation and friendship with his customers.

“Not to brag, but mine was the best barbershop in town,” he says. “I have cut the hair of managers, masons, lawyers, and presidents.”

Initially opened at Sollano 4, the shop eventually moved to calle La Corregidora and finally to calle Correo, where El Dandy has been working for over 40 years. At the same time he opened his shop, he began selling lottery tickets. At one time, El Dandy was the only lottery vendor in town, and he also had phone booths.

El Dandy has several children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. The oldest is 60 and the youngest 15. He proclaims himself a man who loves life and claims that San Miguel is nice as it is, no more, no less: “Our Lord gave me my life to live. Whether things go right or wrong, I never will be bitter. Can you imagine me at my young age and already bitter? I’m too young for that!” [laughter]. “About San Miguel, I like everything, from the ice cream to the girls (or maybe starting with them),” he said.

 

With this issue we say good-bye to Don Carlos Arana, the beloved “Dandy” of San Miguel, who passed away this week. In this article, published on Deceber 2016, we tell the story of who for many years was a collaborator and friend of Atención, selling our newspaper, every Friday, for more than 20 years. So long dear friend, we will always remember you. May he rest in peace,

 

Tania Noriz, the Editor in Chief.

 

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