I'm a gringa married to a mexicano, and we have a 3-year-old son. His family is wonderful for the most part, and they adore my son, but as he is getting older, his tos are trying to "toughen him up" and make him more macho. So far, they've taught him how to cuss (in both languages) and flip people off (like his preschool teacher). Lately, they've taught him to say inappropriate things about women's bodies. I've talked to my husband, but he doesn't want to say anything to them and doesn't seem to care. How can I get them to stop?
Knock machismo all you want—and I'll join you in a bit—but this most reviled of gender roles isn't the horror show people make it out to be. There's nothing wrong about men teaching boys how to become hombres and navigate this vida loca, or for the males of a species to instill a sense of responsibility and pride in their sons so they can assist family and community; indeed, that's a cornerstone value of all sentient beings. Where being macho crosses the border of good taste is when it becomes a mockery of itself, and that's not limited to Mexicans—look at the thuggery in hip-hop, or our Pendejo-in-Chief. Now, about your specific complaints against the in-laws: Better your darling hijo learn about lechery from familia instead of strangers, no? But tell the uncles to can the vulgarities until your kid's at least old enough to hotwire a car.
Are Mexicans really baptized in bean dip?
Yes, but only because Jesus once said, "Blessed are the refried, for they shall inherit the Southwest United States."
When I recently pronounced "cabernet sauvignon" as "kab-er-net saw-vig-nun," I was greeted with jeers and quick, gleeful correction. The same thing happened when I pronounced bologna as "boe-log-naw." Yet when I'm at the local Rubio's, I never hear anyone roll the double-r in "burrito" or correctly express the accents while saying words like taco or salsa, and no one seems to care. What accounts for the difference, the disrespect for one language and the adamant protection of another?
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—La Chulita Mexicana Catolica
Dear Cutie Mexican Catholic,
Haven't you heard? Spanish is the language of living in the ghetto, at least according to former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. And he's right. Really, what's the point of properly pronouncing the language of Cervantes when all that'll earn you is a horchata refill and a higher salary? Enunciating French, German and other European loanwords correctly is so much more important—heaven forbid you offend the literati at some cocktail party or wine bar. Joking aside, your experiences perfectly illustrate the gabacho mind—forever deferential to the customs and traditions of its European ancestors, forever dismissive of everyone else's culture. Melting pot, my pompis. By the way, remember that dicho about those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones? The pronunciation of "taco" and "salsa" are the same in English and Spanish, and you forgot to include an accent over the "o" in "católica."
SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION ALERT! Buy the book version of this column at America's finest bookstores NOW so I can purchase a new fake green card! Indie bookstores: Let the Mexican know that you carry his book, and he'll list you on askamexican.net for gratis!