You know you’re Mexican if … It’s to laugh and to remember

Joe Olvera

Joe Olvera is a long-time journalist whose latest book is - Chicano Sin Fin: Memoirs of a Chicano Journalist

© 2011

Here’s a little bit of good-natured cabula, so don’t take it too seriously, because it’s all tongue-in-cheek. OK? Orale!

You know you’re Mexican if…you know your mom is sneaking up on you, because you can hear her chanclas on the linoleum floor. My dear, sweet mother must’ve had the longest arms in history, because she could always find me to take the loose skin on my arm between her iron-hard fingers, to pinch me for some infraction of her rules. But, she only did that when I needed the discipline, you understand;

You know you’re Mexican if…you have plastic slipcovers on your sofas. Actually, our financial condition was such that we couldn’t buy new sofas very often. But when my mom did manage to buy new ones, we made sure to not tear, rip or dirty them. Otherwise, we were dead meat;

You know you’re Mexican if…you can get to your house blindfolded by the smell of the frijoles frying. Actually, for me, it was always the tortillas. Warm, inviting, delicious aromas would waft from my mother’s kitchen. A welcome, mouth-watering way to greet a hungry youth, especially on cold, wintry nights, as I made my way home from a late day at school after basketball practice. A warm tortilla smothered in butter, or mayonnaise. A meal fit for a king, and, yes, of course, the ever-present frijoles refritos y papas con chorizo y huevo, a huevo;

You know you’re Mexican if…You have a perpetually drunk uncle. Actually, it wasn’t my uncle, it was my aunt. I won’t say her name, but, she used to love to imbibe the cheery stuff. She would drink until her eyes grew dim. And a mellow glow would envelope her. She would cuss like a Marine, and blame it all on the booze;

You know you’re Mexican if…you drive a Cheby (Chevrolet), an Ohsmobeel (Oldsmobile) or a Bolswahgon (Volkswagen). We all made mistakes when we spoke English. I guess that comes from being bilingual. I used to think that a “filling” station was a “Felix Station” owned by some guy named Felix. I also used to avoid words that I wasn’t sure how to pronounce. For instance, I never said “beach,” because I was afraid it would sound like “bitch.” I never said ‘sheet” because I was afraid it would come out a  four-letter word. Even today, I never say “slot,” because it might come out “slut.” Many of us still mispronounce even safe words like green and grin. Even today my kids laugh at my Popeye-ish “Pronounckiations;”

You know you’re Mexican if…you go to at least three weddings a year (2 extra points if you go to at least one quinceanera per year). Hey, those were cultural events. The refrain was usually, “Ya huelo el mole.” Meaning, of course, that whenever someone married, we could smell the mole – the traditional chocolate-based dish at most weddings and quinceaneras, with, of course, the delicious beans and rice to fill up a plate. But, wait a minute. Times have changed. Today, it’s brisquet, with, of course, beans and rice;

You know you’re Mexican if…at least one person in your family is named Maria, Carlos, Juan, Jose, Tony, Chuy, Concha, Tito, or Luis. How about Panfilo, Timoteo, Petra, Cruz, Nasario, Enrique, Simon, Dario, Elvira? Oh, and don’t forget the ever-present in-law named Jeff;

You know you’re Mexican if…you use manteca instead of olive oil and can’t figure out why your ass is getting bigger. Well, I don’t have a big ass, but, I do have diabetes. Do you think that’s where it came from? My diet as a kid?;

You know you’re Mexican if…you have sat in a two-passenger car with over 7 people inside it. Yes, I’ve been there, done that. Actually my brother Junior had something like a ’38 Oldsmobile. It was small, but, the car always had room for one more, and so we would pile in. Smiles big on our faces, and the thrill of riding in my big brother’s pride and joy;

You know you’re Mexican if…your tio owns more gold than the jewelry shop down the street, and most of it decorates his teeth;

You know you’re Mexican if…you drive a truck that has the words printed on the side: “Servicio Particular.” These guys were the scavengers in the barrio. They would haul away any unwanted items, including, but not limited to, old tires, old broken-down refrigerators, and anything in-between. Where are they when we need them now?

Well, that’s it, hope you enjoyed these Mexicanadas, and, please, take them with a grain of salt, because they’re funny, but true. Well, true to some of us anyway. What about you, dear and gentle reader? Got any Mexicanadas for me? Tell me about them, Please! Orale!

Sin Fin



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