Ask a Mexican

Are these Mexicans insulting me?

Dear Mexican: In President Bush's State of the Union address, he reiterated a need for a guest-worker program. What is your opinion of such a program? The program seems like mierda that screws people over in the long run to me, but what do I know?

Una Guerita por un Mundo sin Muros

Dear Gabachita for a World Without Border Walls: Sorry I'm answering your question — what, five years later? ¿Siete? But the sad part about my laziness is that the question remains relevant, and what Republicans once dismissed as Aztlanista claptrap from the mouth of Dubya (who will remain the best GOP friend to Mexis we'll ever have — mark my palabras) is now the gospel they're preaching after the disaster that was their outreach efforts to Latinos during the 2012 presidential election. It's been absolutamente HILARIOUS to see Republicans wake up and smell the tacos more than a decade after Latinos became a political force, to see them lamely prop up Florida senator Marco Rubio as a presidential candidate (the only position he's worthy of is being Secretary of Coños), to see gabacho pundits ask themselves what Latino voters want without having a Latino on their panels or asking said voters, and — most laughably — the idea of resurrecting the guest-worker program. Conservatives love the idea of having Mexicans work cheaply but not being able to become citizens, but it's an idea that will fail as badly as it did the first time around, from the 1940s until the 1960s. For the last time, America: Mexicans are not just workers; they're humans who will notice living conditions are better here and will want to stay here. (How ya gonna keep 'em down on the rancho after they've seen Paree? A border fence? Pshaw.) And while it's true that some Mexicans might want to only work here and go back to Mexico, demographics and history show otherwise. "Immigration reform" without some sort of amnesty is like a burrito without the tortilla — and who the fuck besides calorie-conscious hipsters want that?

Dear Mexican: I was with some cousins for a week in Lindsay, a major orange-picking city in central California. They own a mini-market, and I'd go and help them every day and got to know some customers. Many of the Mexican customers would come in and yell "Agooshtoo" or "Wey" to me and my cousins, and we'd yell it back and they would smile and get their beer. When they would leave, they would say "A rato," and we'd yell it back. I asked my cousins, but they didn't really know much except that the first two were probably curse words. Any help?

Gabacho From Gilroy

Dear Gabacho: "Wey" is easy. They're saying güey, which, as I wrote so long ago, in one of the first ¡Ask a Mexican! columns, is the "ass" of Mexican Spanish, even though it derives from the word for "ox." But it's not a fighting word, and you and your primos should be honored: Mexi men use güey as a form of endearment among each other, à la the American English "fucker" and "man." If they really wanted to insult you, they'd call you puto, pendejo, baboso, or, better yet, pinche puto pendejo baboso. "Agooshtoo" sounds like a gusto (to be at ease), but it very well could be an indigenous language like Mixtec or Triqui, since the Central Valley is home to tens of thousands of folks from Oaxaca. "A rato" is the elided form of al rato, which means "later." In this case, they're telling ustedes güeyes that they'll be back in a bit for more beer. Now that I answered your pregunta, do me a favor and leave some cerveza on credit for my güeyes so they can be a gusto, por favor!

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Gustavo Arellano
Contact: Gustavo Arellano