Dear Mexican: Why can AeroMexico Airlines fly through any kind of weather conditions to get to and from the United States, but any kind of little ice sprinkle or heavy wind and domestic airlines in the U.S. cancel two days’ worth of flights? For two consecutive winters, I’ve had Chicago-to-Houston-to-Leon, Guanajuato on Continental Airlines, and Chicago-to-Dallas-to-Leon on American Airlines canceled with a call I received while getting the suitcases packed! —No Siento Turbulencia
Dear I Don’t Feel Turbulence: You know us Mexicans—throw caution to the wind. We live in this country illegally under the spectre of deportation—and we make it. We live in Mexico under the spectre of the narcos—and we make it. So, what’s a little ice on the wings, some twisted wires? Who cares if the Federal Aviation Administration downgraded AeroMexico to the status of Third World airlines? We still make it. Man, Ma Joad had nothing on us Mexis—we’re the cabrones that live (and, if you read the full quote, you’ll know she was advocating Reconquista!).
Who puts the intense pressure on all adolescent Mexican boys to either shave or buzz their cranium hair, regardless of the number of scars, large ears, or folds of ugly neck skin revealed? —Dirty White Boy Waiting for Godot
Dear Gabacho: That suffocating menace known as “youth culture,” with an assist from “prison culture” but not the “Mexican cultural expectations” your “pendejo ass culture” is insinuating. Simply put: Like any teen trends, shaved heads started with youngsters imitating their friends, who imitated their older brothers and cousins, who imitated their peers. The two great historical fashion trendsetters in Mexican-American youth culture, according to James Diego Vigil’s Barrio Gangs: Street Life and Identity in Southern California, has been prisons and the military, and both subcultures prefer a close-cropped hairstyle for their men for efficiency’s sake. But if you ever see a baby with a shaved head, it’s most likely a kiddie shorn by their wabby parents in the belief that a thicker head of hair would emerge, a Mexican fable as laughable as the belief by children that the wrapped Xbox caja under the Christmas tree actually contains a gaming console and not underwear and socks.
In Las Vegas, the “Caution” signs on the bus doors have three words—recargarse, pararse, empujar—misspelled as recargarce, pararce, enpuja. In the Lowe’s hardware section free cutting service, on a huge letrero is translated “Liberte los Servicios Cortante,” which is hilarious gibberish, incomprehensible to a Mexican. You and I couldn’t make up something like that if we tried! Why is it that bad written English is a sign of ignorance or stupidity, but Spanish . . . ? —El Viejo Profe
Dear Old Professor: You really think it’s a fully bilingual Mexican doing those translations? It’s either a worker pulling something off the Internet, a pocho who doesn’t know any better, or . . . no, it’s a pinche pocho who doesn’t know any better, but draws a nice salary by fooling clueless, monolingual gabachos into thinking he does. But Mexicans don’t care about mistranslations in trivial areas (unless they’re custodians of Cervantes, in which case they deserve to froth at the boca), and the pochos and their gabacho supervisors don’t know any better—so the mistranslations stay. Laugh, I say! We do!
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This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 8, 2010