I moved to Portugal last year and I have learned a phase which will sum up every time you were cut in line by the woman with the big hair. In Portugal, she is called “Tia de Cascais”.
What is a Tia de Cascais?
Tia de Cascais (noun): A wealthy woman who lives in the Portuguese town of Cascais.
Why tia? Why Cascais? Let me break it down for you. First, we need to talk about Cascais.
Cascais is an affluent beach town about 30 minutes from Lisbon by car or train. It is lovely. Seriously. Imagine a city with beaches, castles, forts, beautiful homes and great shopping. It’s kinda like Westchester if it were a Portuguese beach town. This is Cascais. It’s Westchester New Yorkers! You know what this is.
Tias de Cascais tend to live there because their second home is there. Their first home is in Lisbon, and while they prefer the beach…they still keep their Lisbon home because they can and because their kids (and grandkids) live there.
Tias de Cascais are wealthy. They haven’t worked a day in their life. They are entitled. They are always impeccably dressed and well spoken. If you know them and you are a part of their social circle, they are darling.
However, if you don’t know them…you don’t exist. You can be at the doctor’s office speaking to the receptionist, and the Tia de Cascais will cut in front of you…and I can’t say she will interrupt your conversation…because that would mean she knew you were there. In her world, you don’t exist, so she never cut you off in the first place. She didn’t see you. If she does see you, she will assume you are the help. This is a Tia de Cascais.
How to Recognize a Tia de Cascais
A Tia de Cascais is an alpha mom-tiger mom-tiger aunt. She has short, layered hair with great highlights. She has a girl that she goes to who does her hair and all her friend’s hair. She has had a little work done, but she has not gone all out on fillers (she doesn’t look like a cat lady from the Upper West Side) to where she looks like a cat. She stopped right before she hit the uncanny valley of plastic surgery. The Tia de Cascais wears Ferragamo ballet flats, pearls, and a cardigan in the winter months. She is also perfectly pedicured.
She will usually be over 50 years old, but you must not underestimate the Tia de Cascais in training. These are your 30-49-year-olds who are getting ready to step in. Think Housewives of New Jersey..without being loud and without all the scandals.
…and since we’re speaking of voices, Tias de Cascais will have a raspy sound to their voice. Probably because they’re over 50 and wealthy. This means lots of tea drinking…errr…whiskey and smoking while playing cards with their friends.
What to Do When You Encounter a Tia De Cascais in the Wild
As with many things in Portugal. Execute patience. They don’t notice you. They cut you in line. They tap your car as they park their car. They complain about your newness to their country. Just enjoy this quirk of Portuguese culture and go home to your loved ones and tell them about your Tia de Cascais sighting. Then pour yourself a glass of tea…errr…whiskey and relax.