Ask a Mexican

Una Rosa by Any Other Name

Dear Mexican: I've run into a problem with my wife. I'd like to proudly display our last name on the back window of the family car, but she won't allow it. Where did this name-display tradition start?

Tejano Rick

Dear Wab: A Mexican man who allows his mujer a say — now I've heard everything! But she won't need the backside of your hand to see things your way. Just tell tu esposa and the rest of the readers who ask the same question (it's the third-most-popular pregunta to the Mexican, after why Mexicans swim with their clothes on and why Mexicans love Morrissey) that the answer to the sticker mystery is self-evident. Next to skin color and big belt buckles, surnames are the ultimate status symbol in Mexico, a legacy of our colonial masters. The Spaniards were so obsessed with ancestry that many used the last names of their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents, breaking them up with the possessives de (of), y (and) and ¡ (kidding!). Mexicans — ever the resourceful pelados — kept the name game but chopped it down to just two: the apellidos of mami and papi. Though the names might be smaller, the familial pride isn't, so Mexicans display their heritage every which way you can, cabrón: over their doorsteps, initialized onto ornate belts, stitched into caps and, yes, splayed across windows in giant Olde English font. The same logic applies to stickers referencing Mexican states: pride in your heritage. Look at American license plates — they usually boast about the beauty of a particular state, correct? So why don't people fuss over that? Right, because those license plates are American — and everything American is not Mexican and therefore bueno.

Dear Mexican: It's a major talking point of La Raza spokespeople that the current influx of Central American immigrants into the United States represents a re-conquering of land that was stolen by the gabachos. Is there any reason to believe that if the stolen Southwest portion of the U.S. had been under Mexican stewardship all along, that millions of Mexicans wouldn't be trying to emigrate east instead of north?

Un Poco Loco

Dear Mucho Crazy Gabacho: Man, what mezcal worms are you chewing? If by "La Raza spokespeople" you're referring to the National Council on La Raza (the wabby version of the NAACP), they've gone on the record as having never supported or endorsed the notion of a "Reconquista" or "Aztlán." If by "La Raza spokespeople" you're referring to those few stupid Chicanos who believe the current Latino demographic revolution in the American Southwest is divine Aztec justice, remember that their reconquista applies only to Mexicans; we want Guatemalans to stay in Guatemala just like ustedes. But on to your question: The historical speculation you proposed is not only correct, it's already happening. With the conquest of Aztlán complete, Mexicans are moving onto virgin territories in the South and East, aided by the Mexican government's continued ineptitude and good ol' American capitalism. Don't like this scenario? Then hop onto a plane bound for Cuba and see how far socialism takes you.