Strawberry Fields Never

Dear Mexican: I had a heated discussion in my van pool with a couple of gringos where they made a comment that immigration (both legal and illegal) needs to stop. I replied jokingly, "Then who will take our orders at McDonald's or work in the fields?" They had the nerve to tell me there are several Americans willing to work those jobs, especially in the fields. I laughed. Wasn't there a study a couple of years ago where they sent Americans who were collecting unemployment to pick strawberries, and they all quit within a week? I would love to send them that article.

—Pocha from the Central California Coast

Dear Wab: Many readers have asked the Mexican about the study you cite, but I've yet to verify its existence. This makes me believe it's an urban legend along the lines of successful Guatemalans, or Mexican women taking it up the ass to keep their virginity. Besides, who needs a mythical study proving gabachos don't work in agriculture when the government has documented this phenomenon? Consider the Department of Labor's 2005 National Agricultural Workers survey, which collected information on America's agricultural workers. The finding that's pertinent to us: 83 percent of them identified as "Hispanic," and Mexicans constituted the vast majority of that figure. Gabachos, meanwhile, accounted for only 3 pinche percent of all fruit and vegetable gatherers. Many factors besides laziness can explain why gabachos won't take these jobs—terrible wages and working conditions, better employment opportunities for English speakers—but the fact remains that gabachos and crop picking go together as well as Mexicans and la migra. So want to save America from the Aztlanistas, gabachos? Head for the fields and groves, wrap a bandanna around your face to fend off the pesticides and start picking. And make sure there are no bruises on the fruit, lest the foreman dock you an hour's pay.

I am a gaybacho who has lived with his hombre for the past eight years. I've made my peace with his lack of house cleaning, laundry washing and finance managing, all in the name of "Men raised in Mexico don't perform those womanly tasks." It's cool—I love him. One thing that he has done for years is give money to his mother in Mexico. It's gotten to the point where I have as well. I want the lady to be OK, and she doesn't have much. However, he tends to spend whatever he has and, when madre calls, he sends the rest her direction, leaving nothing to pay for part of our bills. This usually results in lots of overtime for me. How do I tell him to spend more carefully without hurting his ego or offending the family? I have built a tremendous rapport with his family and would never want to hurt their feelings. Is there a tactful way to do this and keep everyone happy?

—Gringo Homo

Dear Gaybacho: Sorry, papi chulo, but you're fighting a losing battle. Every woman and joto that has fallen for a Mexican man eventually realizes that his mother will always remain the número uno mujer in his life. Don't hold it against him—it's a cultural trait wrapped in Oedipal, Catholic, indigenous and conquistador intrigue, coupled with Mom's excellent enchiladas. Hombres become dependent on mami's love and daily laundry duties and thus become lackadaisical in household affairs. The genius of this setup is that most Mexican men trick unwitting dupes into assuming those matriarchal responsibilities under the auspice of amor—dupes like you. Man up, gaybacho! Tell your Latin lover to act more responsibly—simple as that. And if that doesn't work, you must withhold the culo until he understands—that'll slap some sense into him pronto.

 
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