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.”
Photo by Vill Vegas.
Oh, right. Old-school Mexicans humiliate their children by pretending they don’t exist.
I’ve been visiting my mother, and all of our immediate family, for the last week. They’re old-school, rural Mexicans. The kind who always offer food, even if they hate you.
I’m in my mid 30s now, and have been living on my own since I was 18, so at our gatherings I get a proper adult seat at the table. They listen to what I have to say, but it wasn’t always like that.
It’s not like that for my younger relatives, either. At family reunions, I see them out of the periphery of my eye. They’re trying to get a word in, but those older Mexicans won’t allow it. Why would they? What have those mocosos (snot-nosed kids) done to deserve anybody’s respect? Did they pay for their food? For the roof over their head? For their car, gas, clothes? No? Then they don’t exist.
Yes, they’re physically there, but unless they can prove their worth through monetary independence, they’re no one. If they try to make their voices heard, they’ll be silenced by a death stare, or an abrupt change in conversation.
If they persist, other humiliations will be flung at them, such as being asked to do something entirely meaningless, just like their opinion. “Vete a ver si ya puso la marrana” (go see if one of the pigs laid an egg) is a classic. My grandma had one of the most bizarre just-get-the-fuck-out-of-here phrases, which I’ve never heard elsewhere: “Vete a descular hormigas” (go chop the asses off ants).
I know these Mexicans sound like assholes, but they’re like that because they believe in resilience, not fragility. Giving encouragement to a mentally and physically healthy person seems redundant to them. Those people already have all they need to succeed, they’ll think.
To gain their respect, at the very least a person will need to become self-sufficient. That’s how you earn the right to sit with them. Either you’re with that, or you’re not there at all.
“Trump Dating” site doesn’t want the gays, but allows the “happily married” to join
You can even be mad at Trump Dating, a new website for lonely — or not so lonely, but just promiscuous — maganogamous people. It’s a perfect representation of their cherished administration, since it’s also homophobic — it only allows “straight” women or men to sign up — and, just like Trump, it’s all about adulterous relationships:
“When you kick off the process of starting a profile, you get two options for labeling yourself — ‘straight man’ or ‘straight woman.’
Yet according to Trump Dating’s rather strange drop-down menus, married people are welcome. For a relationship status, the site offers options like ‘have a significant other,’ ‘happily married,’ and ‘unhappily married.'”
And since no self-respecting republican-specific dating site should exist unless it takes an issue with race, Trump Dating allows their users to be super specific about their genealogy:
“The ethnicity options also seemed oddly specific. In addition to the typical categories, the site includes choices like ‘Scandinavian,’ ‘Polynesian,’ ‘Eastern European,’ ‘Western European,’ ‘Mediterranean,’ and ‘Eskimo,’ a term used to label the indigenous people of Alaska, Canada, and Greenland that is considered offensive and inaccurate.”
OMG, you guys. There better be a second menu where users can identify which of the five Aryan subtype races — Nordic, Mediterranean, Dinaric, Alpine, and East Baltic — they belong to. Otherwise the server room of this Trump Dating is gonna get tiki torched.
Culture3 weeks ago
Calm the f*ck down with your “Despacito” Grammy outrage. It’s not that serious.
Culture4 weeks ago
Dating a Latina from another country gives me the right amount of separation from my culture
Culture3 weeks ago
Just because I’m not dating a Mexican doesn’t mean you shouldn’t
Culture3 weeks ago
Adultery, greed and hypocrisy: The dark side of Chespirito