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Mexican problem #235: I’m in my thirties and my mother is still trying to dress me

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A few years back, while visiting my parents in Northern California, I went out to meet some old classmates at a local bar. After the bar closed, I went home, walked into the guest room, which used to be my teenage bedroom, and noticed a wad of cash sitting on top of the nightstand.

No one else was staying in that room, but during the summer my mother occasionally takes naps there because it’s situated directly across from an A/C vent. “Mom must have forgotten her car payment, or some other payment, here,” I concluded before passing out.

The next day I woke up, brewed coffee, and started reading old stacks of Mexican gossip rags, an old hobby of mine, while sipping on a dose of caffeine. I forgot about the mysterious pile of currency until my mother brought it up.

“You should put your money away,” she said.

“Uh, what money?” I replied.

“The money on the nightstand. You should put it away,” she insisted.

“It’s not mine, Mom. In fact, isn’t it your money?”

Quite dramatically, my mother sat next to me, then went on: “No. It’s yours. It’s a gift from your father. He says you’re broke. Are you broke? Either way, you should put it away.”

I was bewildered. Although it’s an ugly shoebox, I can comfortably afford my apartment in Manhattan while occasionally doing things like traveling and dining out. I don’t live in luxury, but I’m also not dumpster-diving like a crusty punk behind a Starbucks, so my father’s assumption felt inaccurate, especially because my parents also live modestly. My finances are not disproportional to theirs.

“Eh, broke? What are you talking about?!” I retorted.

With a serious look, my mother went on: “Yeah, well, you’re always wearing the same clothes, and they’re old, tattered, full of holes.” I laughed, then realized that my mother’s monthly “care packages,” a medium-size box full of ugly clothes and cooking utensils, were not thoughtful gifts one occasionally sends to a loved one, but — at least in her mind — full-fledged provisions.

Now, when I say mom’s clothing picks are ugly, you may think I’m a snob. No, she has horrible taste in men’s clothing. For example, one of her last packages contained a Phil Robertson (Duck Dynasty) shirt. (My non-English-speaking mother doesn’t know anything about that show, but still.)

But mom is right: most of my clothes are decrepit rags. My favorite boots, which I’ve owned for over eight years, probably wouldn’t be worn by any self-respecting homeless person. “It must be his gross hipster aesthetic,” you may be thinking.

Maybe, but not entirely.

As a kid, when my parents moved to the States, we had little money, so the bulk of my clothes was bought at second hand stores. Then, as a teenager, I worked at the Goodwill. Used, worn-out, broken in clothing has always been in my life. It comes with a story in the way of a stain, hole, tear, or an out-of-place graphic. I find comfort in an inanimate object’s transcendence.

I don’t hate new clothes — I recently bought a new suit — but I understand why my parents are troubled by my aesthetic choices. They used to be dirt-poor immigrants, and having lived “in the land of opportunity” for many years, the fact that a person would willingly dress like they just got off the boat in Ellis Island circa 1900 makes no sense to them.

I told mother my fashion choices are deliberate, and that it’s a look youngsters go for. She snapped back: “I get young people’s ‘fashion trends,’ but what you wear is no trend. I mean, I wouldn’t scrub your dad’s muddy work truck with your clothes.”

Ouch, Mom.


Photo by Vill Vegas

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María Rubio was so good as Catalina Creel, an iconic telenovela villain, the role ruined her career

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According to sources on Twitter, and also TvNotas, the holy bible of Mexican gossip, María Rubio, the legendary actress best known for her role as Catalina Creel de Larios in Cuna de lobos, has passed away. She was 83 years old.

Thanks to her role as Soraya Montenegro in María la del Barrio, Itati Cantoral has been dominating the internet with an insane amount of memes, gifs, and even a House of Cards promo special. Itati blew up in the mid ’90s, when older millennials were still teens, and she’s that generation’s go-to character when it comes to Mexican telenovela villains.

Yes, Cantoral was great as Soraya, but the top dog in the telenovela villain game was — and has always been — María Rubio. The Tijuana-born actress was so good in Cuna de lobos that, according to an interview she did with Cristina Saralegui, the role ruined her career:

“[Catalina Creel] was a difficult, beloved character. I enjoyed playing her, but she also hurt me a lot. People completely forgot about María Rubio and now it seems that, after 40 years of being an actress, I’ve only done Catalina Creel.”

Catalina, a murderous matriarch, was known for having some of the best one-liners in telenovela history. But in the same interview with Saralegui, which was filmed over 20 years ago, María proved to be just as cunning and smart as her infamous character, but also incredibly funny:

“[Although I played a villain], I’ve received nothing but compliments, love, and admiration. Never aggression. I think viewers do attack the bad ones — bad actresses, that is.”

If you understand Spanish, check out the hilarious interview below. Watch María viciously own everyone in a panel of full of young telenovela villains:

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Traumatic advice from aunt Rosa: “Don’t torture your Care Bear, Mijo. Or else.”

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I was 6 years old when I yelled at Tugs, my Care Bear. I put him in time-out for not agreeing to the rules of an imaginary game I had just created.

I built a little time-out fortress for him to stay in while I played with my other toys. Coincidentally my tía Rosa was visiting that day. I urged her to see all my toys when she came into the house. I also explained to her that Tugs was in time-out, to which she replied in shock, “Mijo, mira, You have to be nice to your toys.”

I replied, “Tía, I am nice to my toys, but I’m teaching him a lesson.”

She contested nervously, “No, Mijo, you have to be nice to your toys or they might not be nice to you.”

I wasn’t following her logic.

Mijo, if you’re not nice to your toys, then at night time they might wake up and crawl into your bed to cut your toes with tiny razors,” she said slowly while staring at my imprisoned Care Bear.

“What?!” I whispered to her while looking at Tugs from the corner of my eye.

“Yes, your toys might do very bad things to you if you don’t treat them good.”

I stared at her in disbelief.

She stood up and walked towards the doorway.

Mijo, I brought you some tortillas. Come in the kitchen and let’s warm them up,” Rosa said casually.

From then on, Tugs sat on a tufted pillow on my dresser while I slept in velcro shoes for the next year. Growing up in my Mexican-American family meant that everything was possibly alive and watching you.


Felix III – Journeys the cosmos via Holy Hands Vol. 2. Rents a one-bedroom on Neptune. IG: @Futurefelix / Twitter: @thefuturefelix


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