By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
I just don't get Mexicans and their grooming. The men slick their hair with baby oil, gel or Vaseline or just shave it all off. The women wear it in a ponytail with a neon green hair band or in pig tails or wear bangs created with the biggest curling iron in the world. Do they see themselves in the mirror before leaving home? Do they realize everyone is staring 'cause they look bad? --Tommy Toupee
Not only do we stare at our hair in the mirror, but we also blow kisses to our reflection and whisper, "Ay papi chulo, you're más bonito than those gabachos feos." If there's one body feature that Mexicans can boast about--besides the glorious guts of our men and the asses grandes of mujeres--it's follicles, repositories of the world's hair DNA. Kinky, straight, curly or wavy, the Mexican head is pregnant with possibility, and Mexicans do everything possible to draw attention to what humans can do with a comb and three pounds of gel. Some hairstyles are utilitarian: The Mexi-mullet protects the neck from the brutal sun, while bangs allow our ladies to hide switchblades. Other styles, like indigenous pigtails or Zach de la Rocha's frizzy 'fro, sing the body Mexican. But the best Mexican hair involves Three Flowers brilliantine, the lightly scented petroleum jelly revered by generations of Mexicans for its tight hold, pleasant smell and a shine that rivals a flashlight; women use it to slick their hair into buns, men to sculpt Morrissey-esque pompadours. Class: Thy name is mexicano. Oh, and contrary to popular belief, no self-respecting Mexican man shaves his head: That's the domain of pendejo cholos and their Chicano cousins.
Why do some Mexicans who speak fluent English without an accent insist on pronouncing their names and Spanish place names with the Spanish pronunciation? Especially reporters: "This is Julio Luís Sánchez reporting from Neek-a-ra-wa." I get that this was once Spain and Mexico, that many Mexicans here can trace their roots back generations and that many of the place names are Spanish, but I don't use an Irish brogue to pronounce my last name, we don't say Anaheim with a German accent, and it's Des Moines, not Day Mwahn. It's fine to say words correctly (La Hoy-a and not La Jol-la), but the overly dramatic accent comes off as annoying and pretentious (same with when someone speaking Spanish comes to an English word and drops the accent as if to say, "Look, I'm bilingual!"). On a related matter, does it piss Mexicans off when non-Latinos who happen to speak Spanish do this too? --A Cunning Yet Clueless Linguist
Give me a pinche break. Everyone wants his last name pronounced correctly, whether you're a Jauregui (Yah-reh-gwee), Nguyen (Win) or Schou (Skow, not Shoe). If you notice Mexican reporters do it more often than other ethnically surnamed scribes, it just means they're not ashamed of actively correcting decades of mispronunciations. Really, Cunning: Why don't you lend a lilt to whatever your Irish moniker may be? Afraid the English might trample your potato crop? And Mexicans love it when gabachos try to pronounce Spanish correctly. Oh, they usually butcher our rolling double-r and "n" with the squiggly mark over it, but we respect their effort. Contrast that with my gabacho co-workers, who howl whenever I fumble words like gamut (I say gah-moot, not gah-muht) and harpsichord (I'll spare you the cacophony of spittle and laryngeal scratches). Gabachos can profess all the progressive ideals they want, but put them within earshot of a Mexican gamely attempting to speak the King's English and hear the snickers spread.
Got a spicy question about Mexicans? Ask the Mexican at firstname.lastname@example.org. And those of you who do submit questions: include a hilarious pseudonym, por favor, or we'll make one up for you!