Why Do Mexicans Put Stickers Honoring the Dead on Their Car Windows?
Dear Readers: The Mexican is currently smuggling mescal out of Oaxaca and into hipster bars nationwide, and thus gives you two oldies-but-goodies.
Dear Mexican: It seems that whenever Chicano professors want to show off their mexicanidad, they wear a guayabera. In fact, I saw a picture of you in the Los Angeles Times donning the shirt, along with Dickies pants and Converse All Stars. How trite and bourgeois! You go to a café or bar in any university town in Mexico, and the students will think you're totally naco. I stopped wearing the guayabera when a friend said I looked like a waiter in a Mexican restaurant. Do certain clothes determine your Mexicanness? Sexy Mexi
Dear Pocho: Abso-pinche-lutely. The bigger the sombrero, the wabbier the man, is a commandment all Mexicans learn from the Virgin of Guadalupe. But seriously, Mexican clothes correspond to social and economic status — sweaty T-shirt indicates laborer, calf-length skirt means a proper Mexican woman, and if a cobbler used the hide of an endangered reptile to fashion your cowboy boots, you're probably a drug dealer or a Texan. The guayabera (a loose-fitting, pleated shirt) also announces something about its owner: The güey is feeling hot and wants to look sharp. Why the hate, Sexy? Remember what Andy Warhol said: "Nothing is more bourgeois than to be afraid to look bourgeois." Who cares if Mexican university students call me, you or any guayabera wearer a naco (Mexico City slang for bumpkin)? They can't be that smart if they're still in Mexico.
What's with the memorials on the back windows of Mexican cars? Muerte Man
Dear Gabacho: Ruminating on the Mexican obsession with death is as hack as a reporter rolling with gangsters. Yes, Mexicans embrace death — we laud it in song, codify it with holidays and, sí, plaster the names and dates of birth and death of our deceased beloveds on car windows. "In Mexican homes across Aztlan, an altar is usually present," notes La Pocha, a SanTana artist who specializes in Day of the Dead lore. "In this modern age, spending more time in our cars than our homes, resourceful Mexicans have placed mini-mobile altares in their vehicles."
Isn't there something honorable about living in the presence of death, something valuable in remembering our mortality? Why relegate death to cemeteries as gabacho Protestants do? Why forget those who passed before us?
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