Dear Mexican: I am the proud uncle of five Mexican-redneck kids who recently moved to Wausau with their mamá wisconsiana after living in la Capirucha all their lives. I’ve talked to them on the phone several times a week since they left for la tierra de los sueños materializados, and I’ve noticed slight changes in the way they talk. I’m worried they might lose their neat, mellifluous, middle-class capitalino accent and replace it with some sort of Ricky Martin/Univisión/migra-spokesman one. Is it wrong for me to expect them not to partake in the Spanish that is spoken in the country they now live in? I’d rather be listening to them speaking like tepiteños than this. —Mexicano Temeroso del Cambio
Dear Readers: This Mexican fearful of change is a denizen of Mexico City (la Capirucha to its residents), which amid its many ignominies (smog, crime, overcrowding) and beauties (sprawl, a heritage going back millennia, danielhernandez.typepad.com), one hears the world’s greatest Spanish: a baroque, mind-numbing string of bawdiness, twisting tones that make custodians of Cervantes cringe. That’s not the language of Temeroso’s nephews y sobrinas, however—it seems they’re fresas (literally “strawberries,” but a derisive nickname for hipsters), since he boasts of their middle-class upbringing and rags on tepiteños, the residents of Tepito, Mexico City’s version of Detroit. But I feel bad for the guy, because he’s fucked. If there’s but one lesson you take from this column, America (besides the fact that Mexicans love midgets), it’s this: Language is the most malleable, fleeting cultural trait. Mexico City Spanish is different from the español of other Mexican states, and both differ from the Spanish of el Norte, which mixes the argots of other Latinos to create the version you so scorn, Temeroso. The only hope you can maintain to ensure some level of Mexican cultural purity is to ensure the niños don’t become cheeseheads and teach them instead to root for the Oakland Raiders—or at least the Dallas Cowboys.
I can’t find a concise summary of the number of Hispanics who have served, died, and been wounded in the current war. From what I can determine, Hispanics have been serving this country in wars since the Revolution. —The Ghost of Guy Gabaldon
Dear Patriot: This is ¡Ask a Mexican!, not ¡Ask a Latino!, but I’ll make an exception for your important query. The Pew Hispanic Center issued a report on Latino attitudes toward the Iraq invasion (we generally hate it), but there exists no comprehensive overview of Latinos in the military—just snippets. Some of them: More Latinos have died in Iraq than any other ethnicity and represent about 11 percent of total American casualties (I won’t bother with figures, since they’ll undoubtedly be bigger by the time this column gets published). Two of the first fallen soldiers in our new version of Vietnam, José Angel Garibay and José Gutiérrez, were originally illegals from Mexico and Guatemala, respectively. The numbers of non-citizen Latinos serving go into the tens of thousands, meaning while most Know Nothings rail about aliens from the comfort of a sidewalk, a lot of those evil anchor-babies are out fighting to preserve the freedom that allows pendejos to slur their families. And Latinos have proudly served this country for centuries, from Garibay and Gutiérrez to Jesús “Chewy” Baca in the Galactic Civil War.