Dear Readers: Mucho feedback from ustedes regarding recent questions about archetypical Mexican dogs and the propensity of wabs to DUI. Let’s empezar with the doggies:
You’re right about Chihuahuas—crazy, tough dogs. I’m a dog rescuer (www.geocities.com/st-roch), and we once found a Chihuahua in a box by the side of the road with his right rear leg chopped off. We called the little guy Fernando. Unfortunately, the hip on the left rear leg was dislocated, but without a right leg to support it, the left hip wouldn’t heal. This handicap didn’t bother Fernando: He learned to run and even jump up stairs on his front legs alone, sort of like an ostrich in reverse. And he was tough: He wasn’t frightened by any dog, of any size. Fernando was adopted and lived happily for about five more years. —Pero Perron
The following is one of many similar cartas that readers sent about their theories behind the disproportionate amount of Mexican drunk-driving deaths:
You wrote that you didn’t know why Mexican-Americans have the second-highest alcohol traffic-fatality rate after Native Americans. The answer may be right there in front of us. Native Americans have, on average, genetically less ability to metabolize ethanol than those from the Old World. Of course many Mexicans are indios, but of the rest, while the “Y” DNA is strongly European, the mitochondrial DNA (matrilineal) has strong native representation. Not to say that Mexicans can’t hold their liquor, but that it should be expected that among the strata of the population that would find the most need to head north for work, you might expect a higher chance of susceptibility to severe problems with alcohol. —Heap Big Huevos
Interesting theory, but the study I cited debunking the myth of machismo behind excessive Mexican boozing also disproved the much-held belief that Native Americans can’t take much firewater because of their genes. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s 2003 paper, Alcohol Use and Related Problems Among Ethnic Minorities in the United States, calls it an “unsubstantiated hypothesis,” because Injuns “do not appear to have a greater physiological or psychological reaction to alcohol than do members of other ethnic groups,” and “Native American groups in the United States vary greatly in their alcohol use.” As I said earlier, there is no logic in alcohol—except the superiority of tequila above all boozes, por supuesto.
Why do Catholics of Latin descent kiss their thumbs after making the sign of the cross? I’m a Catholic myself, and I have never been able to get a good answer from my Latin friends. —Holy Mole
Dear Gabacho: I answer questions about Mexicans—what’s a Latin? Anyhoo, Mexicans do what you described as well. No less an authority than The Catholic Encyclopedia has noticed this fascinating genuflection—an entry describes the custom as “prevalent in Spain and some other countries.” I’m surprised more non-Latino Catholics don’t do it, since it’s just an extenuation of the Catholic custom that calls for kissing the crucifix after reciting the Rosary. But why do Mexican Catholics and their Hispanic primos practice this tradition and not other Papists? I’ve used this joke before, and I’ll use it again: Mexicans will always go the extra step—whether buying toxic votive candles, kissing thumbs, or forgoing contraception—to ensure we’re the Chosen Juans.