DEAR MEXICAN: Why must gringos insist on changing my preferred name of “Rose” during introductions to “Rosa” or “Rosita” or “Rosarita”? When I respond with, “No, my name is Rose,” you would think I had committed a crime against my heritage to deny what can only be an assumption on their part.
Nicknames, Nicknames Everywhere
DEAR POCHA: See, most Mexicans usually suffer the other way: Gabachos Anglicize their muy mexicano names to English nicknames, in the way Manifest Destiny taught them. In fact, that used to be the de facto law of the land until about the past decade—that’s why you see old Chicanos going by Connie and Art, even though their birth names are Consuelo and Arturo. You must be one of those veteranas, given you said Rose is your “preferred name,” suggesting it’s not your actual nombre. But instead of calling you a vendida for siding with English against Spanish or even Nahuatl (why not Xochitl—”flower” in the language of the Aztecs?), I respect your decision—names are personal things, so we should respect people’s choices. Unless you’re Donald Trump, of course, who should only be called pinche pendejo gabacho cagaleche.
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DEAR MEXICAN: How come Mexicans don’t like negative space? I was thinking about this important question on Saturday, while staring into a huge bowl of menudo at Delicious Mexican Foods to Go on Fort Boulevard in El Paso. It was stuffed with tripe and pozole and greasy red sauce, and then I threw in chopped onions and cilantro and dried chile peppers and salsa verde and whatever that green dried herb is, and then I squeezed a half of lemon on top of the concoction. The nice lady also gave me two buttered bolillos hot from the oven, a glass of water and a cup of coffee. There was no space left on the table for anything except hunger.
I began to eat. The menudo was glorious. But in the midst of my reverie, the menudo got me thinking about Diego Rivera and the Aztec calendar and Pancho Villa, for God’s sake—even Frida Kahlo. If any of them saw even a little bit of negative space, they would fill it with paint or blood or prophecy about the end of the world. It was like they wanted to answer every question there is to ask. Then Japan popped into my head. The Japanese love negative space—like miso soup and strange little sushi on a big platter and Zen and haiku and inked scrolls showing some monk sitting on a stone dwarfed by the totally empty void. Lucky for me, I remembered you. Am I right? Do Mexicans have a thing against negative space? Maybe Mexican culture is an antidote for Japanese culture and vice versa, and what we need now is an antidote to gringo culture. And why is it I can like Mexico and Japan at the same time? Am I crazy or what?
DEAR GABACHO: You are absolutely right—we despise negative space. Gabachos see a manicured lawn; Mexicans see a place to park a car. Gabachos silently mourn during a funeral; Mexicans hire a tamborazo. Gabachos stand respectfully apart while in line; Mexicans get so close to you they’re nearly pito to culo. It explains our love for murals and poofy quinceañera dresses and fruit salads with chili powder. Why do we fill up negative space? Because life was meant to be lived crossing borders—DUH.