Dear Mexican: First of all, please don’t think that I’m a self-loathing Mexican: I was born in the U.S. to northern Mexican parents. As far as I know, my ancestry is just Indian, Spanish, and a little French. For some strange reason, I have developed an intense fascination—and, you might say, love—for Arab culture, language, cuisine, etc., especially Lebanese, Syrian, Jordanian, Palestinian, and Iraqi. And I don’t even have a drop of Arab blood in me. I hope to visit Lebanon someday, as well as Palestine (notice I said “Palestine” and not Israel), Syria, Jordan, and Iraq. I love the dabka, kibbe, kaffiyehs, qahwa, falafel, hummos bi tahini, baqlawa, Lebanese singer Fairuz, the ruins at Baalbek, the city of Beirut, and, hell, too many other things to mention. Do you think I could be of Lebanese ancestry and not know it? I mean, there are descendants of Lebanese immigrants in Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico. Would a DNA test tell me what my ancestry is, and could it turn up libaneses in my family tree? Let me know. —Wannabe Arab, a/k/a El Libanés
Dear Wab: You’re not one of those idiot Chicanos who ridiculously, insultingly compares the plight of Mexicans in the United States to that of the Palestinians in their homeland, are you? I can’t tell for certain if you have Middle Eastern genes without a DNA sample, and I’m not interested in obtaining one from tu unless you’re a chica with bouncy double-D’s. But your chances that the sangre of the Levant courses through your veins is more likely than gabachos may think. As you noted, the Lebanese did migrate to Mexico throughout the 20th century and contributed to the patria in ways both positive (tacos al pastor, Salma Hayek) and negative (billionaire Carlos Slim Helú), having the biggest presence in Mexico City and the states of Puebla, Veracruz, and the Yucatán. I recommend you buy Theresa Alfaro-Velcamp’s excellent 2007 study, So Far from Allah, So Close to Mexico: Middle Eastern Immigrants in Modern Mexico, in which she examined thousands of genealogical records of Lebanese and Syrians who moved to Mexico. Also, don’t forget that most Mexican uncles have enough Moorish blood in them to pass as Saddam Hussein in a pinch.
Why is it that Mexicans feel like they have to tear up the store shelves? I work in the shoe department at a department store, and it looks like a bomb went off on our shelves after the families have finished. We even stand there and ask if we can help while we watch them tear it up. —Nitwit for Nike
Dear Gabacho: Same reason everyone else does come Christmas: the ever-elusive search for the perfect pair of Chuck Taylor sneakers.
Why is it that Mexicans aren’t as stressed as gringos? Even those living illegally, which must be nerve-racking. —El Güey Gringito Confiado
Dear Gabachito: Because no matter how bad we have it, we’ll always have it better than the Guatemalans.
CONFIDENTIAL TO . . . the Mexican government, which recently got its calzones in a bunch over a Burger King commercial aired in Spain that depicted an American cowboy and Mexican midget on friendly terms. At a time when drug lords dominate large swaths of Mexico and the country’s three major industries (tourism, oil, and migrant remittances) have dropped, you get worked up about a midget decked out in the tricolor? You know what’s a bigger desecration to the Mexican nation? Ustedes. Poor Mexico: so far from God, so close to pendejo panistas.