Ask a Mexican

Checking in with our neighbors to the north

Dear Mexican: As a Mexican-American, I've lived in St. Louis for about seventeen years and have seen a substantial influx of my brethren. Nevertheless, I'm for border security — against the no-good, godless Canadians. I hate Canadians! Funny accents and cold weather — ha! Why is America not closing the Canadian border? Those bunch of hockey-playin', maple-syrup-eatin' hijos de puta should take responsibility for the atrocities they have committed against good God-fearin' American folks — Avril Lavigne, Alanis Morrisette, among others. Where does the humanity begin and hopelessness end? I expect that the Canadian-American War may begin at any moment, and I can hardly wait to bitch-slap a non-o-pronouncin' mawfucka.

El Comandante de Cinco Estrellas de los Chulos del Mundo

Dear Five-Star Commander of the World's Handsome Men: I will not stand idly by while you denigrate an entire race. How can anyone hate Canadians? Such simple people who let Mexicans steal their precious Wave, thereby eliminating one of the few contributions they've made to world culture besides hockey, comedians and Lennox Lewis. Besides, those snowheads with their pleasant ways always ask the Mexican questions about his hermanos despite the relative dearth of wabs in Canada. (The swarthy hated folks in the Great White Norte are the Pakis, I do believe. Or Newfoundlanders. I forget.) We know why our northern border is largely unprotected: no Mexicans on the other side. Besides, why are you trying to antagonize the last, best hope in North America? My Canadian peers: Ignore this pinche puto pendejo baboso. The Mexican nation worships ustedes like the gabacho gods you are. All hail to the hoja de arce!

Dear Mexican: I've been together with my Mexican boyfriend for over three years. However, at the beginning I had problems getting along with my mother-in-law, and now that I'll get to meet the mother of my mother-in-law, it seems things might get rougher with her. I try my best, but it never seems good enough. What should I do? I also have difficulties understanding that mi novio is looking forward to scaring the first boy who would approach his young sister. Por favor, explain to me how to seduce la familia!

Saludos Desde Quebec, Canada!

Dear Facebook Friend: I've answered this question before; go through the ¡Ask a Mexican! archives in my book for further consultation. One major point I forgot to explicar, only because it's so obvious — but for your Canadians, I'll explain slowly — is that in Mexican culture, the mother is queen, and la abuelita is empress: even more regal, more difficult, more beautiful and more terrifying. Proceed with caution: Tell her she looks like Maria Félix, but don't mention the old-age home or the prodigal son who's only going to show up when she dies to claim his part of an abandoned casa in the rancho.

Dear Mexican: Around our store in Little Saigon, it's a running gag that "Nguyen" is the Vietnamese "Smith" and "Tran" is the Vietnamese "Jones." Which got me thinking about an old question of mine: Which of these four common Spanish last names — Rodríguez, López, Hernández and Gómez — would count as the Mexican "Jones"? And, while I'm asking, a little historical query: How did those family names become so prevalent, anyway?

Canadian Guy of English Descent Whose Name Is Not Smith

Dear Hoser Gabacho Who Works With Chinitos: Since the 2000 United States census counts Jones as the fifth-most popular surname in the United States, its wabby corollary would logically be López, since it's the fifth-most common Hispanic apellido, following García, Rodríguez, Martínez and Hernández. But that means Tran is the Vietnamese Johnson, and Hoang its Jones. Prevalence? Same way other surnames spread: Their carriers shtupped as much as possible to keep up with the Lópezes.

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Gustavo Arellano
Contact: Gustavo Arellano