Thursday, October 6, 2011
Dear Mexican: I learned Spanish in school as a teen. Then, it seems, because I was young, everybody was an usted. I would like to practice speaking it, but am now an adult and don’t know who gets to be a tú? I’m scared of getting it wrong and unwittingly offending. Tú might be too familiar – hence, disrespectful – usted might be too cold or aloof. Please tell what is customarily done so I can dare to try to speak this very beautiful language. - Yo Quiero Hablar
Dear I Want to Speak: Primeramente, thank usted for being a gabacho who’s not afraid of Spanish – you can teach Arizona and Alabama something, you know? The formal second-person personal pronoun usted isn’t cold or aloof at all, though, but rather a sign of respect toward the person you’re addressing – it could be a kid, a viejito, or the pinche King of England. Tú is for addressing anyone who doesn’t deserve particular respect but also doesn’t deserve derision. For those pendejos in the latter category, don’t even bother addressing them as a “you” – just call them “Alabama.”
I just read another letter in your column from a gabacho talking about Mexicans, who he claims are “desecrating our flag. A-a-and showing contempt for American citizens!!!” It’s time for me to ask you – are these letters for real? Are you sure it’s not part of some nefarious plot to make white people look like a bunch of whiny cracker boobs? -A Gabacho Unleashed
Dear Gabacho: Of course all the letters sent in are real – who do you think I am, a fabulist like Sarah Palin? As I always say in my many lectures, I only do three things to the questions: edit them for space constraint, clean them up for grammatical purposes and give people a pseudonym (I would’ve called usted Dumbfounded in Denver, but your choice worked). But you don’t have to worry about Mexicans making gabachos look bad – the state of Alabama does that job just great. And don’t worry about Mexicans hating on good gabachos such as yourself. We keep track of every gabacho in this country – we know who we can count on to marry our daughters, and who’s calling code enforcement whenever our primo Chava parks his Suburban on our lawn – in our own mestizo Domesday Book, making notes so when the time comes to take over, we’ll decide who gets the shot of Corralejo and who gets deported to Alabama.