Dear Mexican: My beloved niece married a boy of Mexican extraction. I am very fond of him, but he and his family hold us at arm’s length. It’s very difficult to get close and has made me back off. My niece has told me that his mother “doesn’t like white people.” Isn’t her attitude racist? I’ll never forget walking into their wedding with big smiles. We were greeted with stony faces and no responses to our greetings; it felt like West Side Story. Is there something I can do, or should I just continue to be courteous and try to find something to talk to them about? It is hell to hold a conversation with his family. (Actually, his father is nice, and he makes great burritos.)
Dear Gabacha: Stop being so gabacha. Believe it or not, not all Mexicans like white people. Your nephew-in-law obviously does, and it seems his papi goes gaga for the gaba as well. But your niece’s suegra? Not so much. I can offer advice — take the woman out to a spa day, treat her to lunch, smuggle in the last of her sisters from Puebla — but the sad reality is that Mexican moms keep pointless vendettas for life. You’re upset about one pendeja making reunions uncomfortable; I have cousins who don’t talk to other cousins over something said by uncles 45 years ago…but I still need to show my face at family quinceañeras, you know?
Dear Mexican: Why are flour tortillas available in six-, eight-, ten- and twelve-inch sizes, but corn tortillas only available in six-inch-size?
Worth the Girth
Dear Gabacho: Flour tortillas can get bigger because of their gluten, of which corn tortillas have next to none. Because of that, corn tortillas have a maximum size they can reach before disintegrating like the U.S. border. But as I told the Charleston City Paper last year, tortillas are like penises: It’s not the size of the ship, but the motion of the masa that matters.
Dear Mexican: While conversing with Mexican-American ’manitas, I came to a halt when trying to conjugate the verb pistear or pistiar. Whence does the term originate?
Dear Negrita: The Real Academia Española doesn’t acknowledge the Mexican-Spanish definition of pistear — “to get smashed with pals” — but what do they know? The paisa slang ultimately derives from pisto, which is both an adjective (drunk) and a noun (the drink that got the pisto person pedo). And pisto comes from the Latin pistus — “smashed.” Meanwhile, all the RAE can offer as a definition for pistear is some Central American mamadas about making money.
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