By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Why do Mexicans swim with their clothes on? I mean, denim?!
--Vicente Fox's Mustache
I know this might be a seasonal question, but why do Mexicans like swimming in their clothes? Is it a Catholic thing? I remember as a child growing up in the San Fernando Valley that my pocho Catholic cousin even bathed at home in his T-shirt and underwear through his adolescence. He claims the nuns told him it was a sin to be naked.
I am half-Mexican myself but just don't understand: Why do Mexicans wear their clothes when swimming? They are the only people at a beach or public swimming spot who do it. Very bizarre. Please explain!
Dear Gabachos and Pochos,
This is by far the most-asked question in Ask a Mexican! history. So, to todos ustedes, I have my own question: Are you all chubby chasers? Like gabachos, an alarming number of Mexicans are out of shape. According to a 2003 study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 24 percent of Mexico's population is overweight. That's the second-highest obesity rate in the world following--wait for it--los Estados Unidos! Unlike gabachos, Mexicans respect the public when it comes to flashing our flabby chichis, pompis and cerveza guts, so when we're out near the pool or by the beach, we cover up. It ain't Catholicism, machismo or an homage to our swim across the Rio Grande. It's good manners.
Why do wabs, regardless of age and body size, always have one hand rubbing their bellies under their shirts? Is this something that is inherent in all wabs? Because they all do it, especially the "fresh from the border" ones. I don't get it. I'm a pocho, and I've never seen other pochos do it. Are wabs finger-banging their belly buttons or what? They all look so fucking stupid doing this. Just go to Home Depot and watch them.
--Pocho with Albóndigas Grandes
Dear Pocho with Grande Meatballs,
What's with the panza hate? In previous eras, girth was a sign of bounty and promise--I'm thinking Santa Claus, William Howard Taft and the Earth Mother. That's still the case in Mexico. Next to a broom-thick mustache and a gray Ford truck, a glorious, well-rounded stomach is our ultimate proof of machismo. A panza's layers of fat fuel our insatiable work ethic; its orbital shape is a testament to the wives we keep in kitchens at home. Gabachos might work out, but taut muscles cannot compete with the centripetal force of a panza. Kids flock to it; crowds stare in jealousy when a magnificent specimen passes by. So when we rub our panzas, we pat the larded treasure that brings us success, popularity and prosperity--recall how Buddhists massage Siddhartha's plump belly for luck. And, in an amazing coincidence, Theravada Buddhists celebrate a mid-July holiday called Khao Pansa, where the faithful live in monasteries for three months and conclude with a gluttonous festival of food--all in the name of expanding that sweet, sweet panza.
Got a spicy question about Mexicans? Ask the Mexican at email@example.com. And those of you who do submit questions: include a hilarious pseudonym, por favor, or we'll make one up for you!