Dear Mexican: I have a Mexican friend at work, and we happened to get in a discussion that started off fine — but I believe that I offended her as the discussion progressed. We were talking about an upcoming celebration, and I asked if she knew the true meaning behind Cinco de Mayo. "Of course I do," she said. "It was a famous battle we won" — "we," meaning Mexico. "That's great," I replied, "because a lot of people have the wrong idea. They think it's when Mexico got its independence." She then said, "Yeah, only you gringos think that."
She implied that she should know because she is Mexican-American. I said that she's really an American that happens to have Mexican heritage. Showing signs of being upset, she said we are really in Mexico. I was at first confused, then I realized that she was suggesting that Texas, Arizona, California and New Mexico were originally Mexico's land. I said, "Actually, we're in Nevada, which I don't think was part of that region." I apologized for upsetting her. Those were not my intentions. What's your opinion? H.R. Harridan
Dear Gabacha: Nevada not a former part of Mexico? Where do you think the name came from? That said, you were in the right. She shouldn't have called you a gringo at work — she should know that we save that for when you're out of sight. She also shouldn't be telling you that this land is Mexico. That's a secret not ready for revelation until Nevada is majority-Mexican like Southern California.
I'm a white man who lives in a small town about 13 miles from the Mexico border. In this town there is a coffee shop, and an attractive Mexican lady started working there. She does not speak English. I have a Spanish/English dictionary, and I have been writing her notes when I go into the coffee shop. She writes back in Spanish. She says hello to me every time I go in there; I have been practicing my Spanish "hello." Her children speak English, but she does not. I can't see spending my life talking to her through her children. Can you help me with the next step? Still On Spanish
Dear SOS: Wow, a Marty Robbins song come to life! While your average Chicana scholar would rightfully rip you apart for your paternalistic, colonialist, macho, heteronormative attitude, I'll be a bit more sympathetic: You're getting WAY ahead of yourself. Get to a situation where you can slip off her chonis first, son! And to get to that step, learn some habla first. Get thee to a Spanish-language class.