There are many factors to being a Mexican, or a Mexican’t. I hover between the two, but for the most part, I’m a total poser. I may have a Spanish last name, but I can’t talk the talk or walk the walk. There are some days where I just feel very authentic. Perhaps my hair is a bit thicker one day, bouncing around with natural waves of dark roots or the fact that I can stand outside for an hour and get a tan that lasts three weeks. Some days, I just have it, while other days I don’t.
The other half of my blood is English, mostly. Throw in some gross English boiled sausages into a pot of salsa, that’s me. I have ancestors that came over on the mayflower so I’m basically royalty.
I also don’t speak Spanish. I took Spanish in middle school and hated it. I never got past naming the colors. I didn’t have much interest in learning the language which is ironic since it’s like, America’s second language and would be the most useful to me.
I’m not quite up in the times when it comes to Mexican food either. For a neighborly BBQ one day over the summer, my friend Aimee asked me to pick something up at the grocery store. I can’t remember what it was called so we can go with Mexican-Food-I-Had-Never-Heard-Of.
“Hey, can you pick up Mexican-Food-I-Had-Never-Heard-Of?” asked Aimee.
Nervous, I pretended to know of this food, but just as a caution, asked her which aisle it would be in.
“Oh you know, the Latin American section next to all the salsas.”
So I walked down the aisle, searching, searching, searching, not remembering/understanding the name of the thing she wanted, and texted her saying, “Oh darn. They don’t have it in this store. OH WELL.”
If I was honest with her, she’d just make fun of me for being the world’s worst Mexican.
When I eat salsa, I just dip the tortilla chip in the jar lightly enough to get some salsa juice on it because long story short, I don’t like peppers, tomatoes, or onions, which basically is the substance to salsa.
I went to Margaritas one time and while ordering a Dos Equis, the waiter looked at my ID and said, “Ohhhhh. Rrrrreeeeynnaaaa! We have a Mexican in the house.” I’m sure he was making a big deal out of it because no actual Mexican eats at Margaritas so this was new to him. He began speaking in my “native language” until I stopped him short and said, “It’s okay. I’m a fake Mexican. Give me that cheese quesadilla.”
Just recently, my neighbor Janine introduced me to Mexican Bread. I didn’t even know that was thing until I tried a
loaf bite and was completely hurt that I had never had it before. I tried to impress someone one time of my cultured life by saying I love buñuelos with coffee but to be honest, I’ve had them like, three times. They then commented, “So you’re like, super Mexican?”
When I go to the movies or shopping, I don’t invite fifteen of my closest relatives to come with me. This is stereotypical, I know, but it’s real. Any time I see a Mexican woman at the grocery store, she has at least six other relatives by her side arguing over which ice cream tub they should get.
I can’t hold my tequila. Tequila is one of those deadly liquors where you have one bad night, and you swear off of it for at least three years before you can even smell it again without vomiting. I even tried that whole salt on your wrist thing and I thought it was heinously disgusting.
I’ve always thought of myself as a weird illusion. White people usually can’t seem to figure out what I am just by looking at me. One time in high school, a girl in gym class asked if I was Japanese.
“That’s a new one,” I said.
“Your eyes. They’re just so squinty when you smile,” she said.
Everyone else, however, can make a wild guess by simply noticing my almond-shaped eyes and are usually correct.
But no matter how many times I blow it off, it can actually be a struggle coming from the best of both worlds. For instance, I hate going to a new doctor. Not because they make me weigh myself or the possibility that I might have some incurable disease, but filling out the forms can be a real pain.
I’m not sure how it is in other countries, but in the U.S. you have to circle one of the following:
- American Indian or Alaskan Native
- African American
- Hispanic or Latino
- Hawaiian Native/Pac Island
- White, Non-Hispanic
So, if I circle white, I’m claiming to be “Non-Hispanic”, which is a lie, and the doctor’s could clearly see is a lie given my last name. But if I circle hispanic, I’m claiming to not be white, which is my entire life. I sometimes circle both if I just really don’t have the time or energy to make the argument in my head. And then the receptionist looks at me like I’m Medusa and tells me to pick one or the other. Why can’t I be both? My mom is white, my dad was Mexican. It’s as simple as that. My neighbor goes through the same struggle. Her mom is white, her dad is Mexican. Why is it so hard for some people to grasp that I can be both? I could really throw them for a loop and circle American Indian, but that’s a stretch since I’m only 1/16 Native American.
Sometimes, these struggles work out in my favor. When I was applying to college, my mom told me to put hispanic on all of my forms because colleges love diversity. She was right. I got into all five colleges, and when I finally accepted one offer, I got “International Student Newsletters” in my email every week through those four years.
I guess my point in this post is that I may have grown up in an area where 97% of the population were white civilians, but that’s what makes my Mexican side so fascinating and exciting to me. I may not hail from Mexico or tried to be all “Chola” (I just recently heard that term on a comedy sketch), but I still am proud of where the other half of my blood belongs to. It’s fun to play around with that culture when I feel inspired. So to all the white people who reminded me that I’m a little different, thank you. I don’t know where I’d be without it.