!Ask a Mexican!

Illustration by Mark DancyDear Mexican,

Why are Mexicans known as greasers? Is it because they spread rancid lard from their dirty kitchens all over themselves after bathing instead of baby oil or cologne the way clean, civilized Anglos do?

Anonymous LBCer


Dear Gabacho,

Mira, güey, the only grease we put on ourselves is the Three Flowers brilliantine Mexican men use to lacquer up their hair to a shine so intense astronomers frequently mistake the reflection off our heads for the Andromeda Galaxy. That puts us in brotherhood with the 1950s gabachorebels whom mainstream society also denigrated as greasers. But the reason "greaser" maintains such staying power as an epithet against Mexicans—etymologists date its origins to the 1830s—is because it refers to, as you correctly imply, our diet. Sociologist Irving Lewis Allen devotes a chapter in his 1990 compendium of linguistic essays, Unkind Words: Ethnic Labeling From Redskin to WASP to the predominance of foodstuffs that double as ethnic slurs in American English. "All these slurs in American slang," writes Allen, "indicate a great historical awareness of alien ethnic food, its preparation, and the eating of it—another case of dislike for the unlike." Allen also notes gabachos have called Italians, Greeks and Puerto Ricans "greasers" at other times during the American experience. But the food hate goes both ways, LBCer—bolillos (French rolls) and mayonesa (mayonnaise) are what we call gabachos, and in the larger scheme of things, I'd rather people call me something tasteful like grease or beans than a condiment that always smells like urine.



Dear Mexican,

My question is two parts: Why do Hispanic women pluck out every eyebrow hair and then shade it in like a kiddie coloring book, and why is that attractive to the guys?

Simply Doesn't Get It


Dear Gabacho,

Eyebrow plucking is as old as civilization itself—archaeologists excavating Abraham's hometown of Ur found tweezers in a tomb carbon-dated to about 3500 B.C. Sexologists link male attraction to thin eyebrows and other depilated female regions to an obsession with the younger female form. But seriously, Simply: be glad Mexican women trim their eyebrows so finely. If they didn't, the natural hirsuteness of our mujeres would sprout forth, and all would resemble Frida Kahlo, whose unibrow and light mustache remain a Mexican hombre's ultimate cold shower.



Got a spicy question about Mexicans? Ask the Mexican at garellano@ocweekly.com. And those of you who do submit questions: include a hilarious pseudonym,por favor, or we'll make one up for you!

 
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