I’ve lost count of the many parties, and I mean hard-core parties, that I’ve ended up at that I thought were a huge milestone for the party-thrower: 30th birthday, quinceañera, etc. only to find out that the bash had started as a party…for a five-year-old!!! I’ve always wondered if all the fights with all the borrachos at these parties were ever started by a kid wanting his toy back.
2. Total failure at correct name pronunciation
If you happen to have an easy-to-pronounce name like Juan Lopez, you might never experience this, but for the rest of us with lots of “rrrrrrrs” in our names — we just get used to hearing our name mangled. And if we decide to pronounce our name “in Spanish” when being introduced, we always have to say it more than once.
3. Saturday visits to Grandma’s that are more like Don Francisco concerts
I don’t know how or why, but somehow I spent quite a few Saturday nights visiting my Grandma. I know my Grandma loved me very much, but I don’t think I ever got to talk to her during any of my visits. We would always end up watching the ultimate “party in a show” called Sábado Gigante together, but since my Grandma was hard of hearing, it always felt like a two-hour Don Francisco screamfest.
I had more than one nightmare of Mr. Frank and El Chacal and his trumpet chasing me around while my Grandma watched, laughing hysterically. Where was Jerry Springer when I needed him?
4. Barbecue getting overpowered by carne asada
No matter how much you might be craving a delicious and juicy burger from a backyard grill, with your Mexican friends and family you must always settle for carne asada. Don’t get me wrong, chelas con carne asada with friends is like a religion, but dang it, a solid burger isn’t a bad trophy to earn after a long workweek.
5. Total language barrier with neighborhood kids when it comes to playing with superheroes
All the neighborhood kids only had Superman and Batman. I had those two, but I also had their father: el Chapulín Colorado, the red grasshopper.
“No contaban con mi astucia,” “Síganme los buenos,” or “Que no panda el cúnico” are three of the most popular quotes in any Spanish-speaking Mexican household. The unfortunate thing was that whenever you translated such amazing quotes from the “red cricket” to your non-Spanish-speaking friends, it wasn’t the same. “You weren’t counting with my cunning,” “Follow me…the good?” and “Pobody nanic” (as in, “nobody panic”) were not exactly easy to translate or, even harder, understand. Thank God I never tried to translate “pastilla de chiquitolina.”
6. Celebrating on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve
While many of my friends got to open their presents on Christmas day, I always got to open them after eating turkey and romeritos on Christmas Eve. Growing up Mexican in the US means you never get to experience what it feels like to wake up on Christmas day and run down the stairs to open your presents. No worries, I kind of always liked opening my gifts ahead of everyone else.
For New Year’s, my friends knew that I would never party with them because I had to do the 12 grapes and champagne thing with my parents, sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins. The first time I spent a New Year’s Eve outside my home I felt socially inept and was in such shock that I missed the countdown.
7. Taking Spanish for an easy A
One of the cool benefits of growing up Mexican in the US is the ability to cruise through the foreign-language requirement in school. To some, French might be quite appealing; to others, German might be the challenge they’re after; but to many, Spanish is just the smooth sailing that’s desired. Your Spanish abilities also made you the go-to person whenever your non-Spanish-speaking friends would struggle with their homework.
Oh, and the joy of how Mr. Stetson, the popular Spanish teacher at my school, would always avoid me in the hallways, afraid I would end up correcting even his slightest attempt at conversation with me.
8. Having various options for the World Cup
Nothing in the universe can top the fun, excitement, and utter craziness of following your team in a World Cup every four years. Actually, there is something: having two teams you can truly call your own to root for. Whether you’re watching “futbol” or “soccer,” there’s always one team that will pick you up when the other fails you.
Too bad every single World Cup I can remember has seen neither of my teams advance beyond the quarterfinals. If only I had been born Brazilian-Italian.
9. Appreciation of “authentic” Mexican food from Mexico vs. “delicious” American burritos
Many Americans travel to Mexico only to return home disappointed about the food, saying it wasn’t “Mexican enough,” and when Mexicans visit the US, they come home crying about how “un-Mexican” Mexican food is north of the border. Growing up Mexican in the US affords you the opportunity to truly enjoy and appreciate an “American” bean burrito while also being able to salivate over just about all the food when traveling in Mexico.
10. Trilingualism: English, Spanish, and the coolest language in the world, Spanglish
Being bilingual is pretty cool, but being trilingual rocks — especially when Spanglish is your third language. Speaking Spanglish is perfect because when you’re speaking English there are always words, ideas, or concepts that are way better expressed in Spanish, and vice versa. You might as well aprovechar Spanglish to save tiempo, right?
11. The lumping together of all Latinos as “Mexicans”
All my non-Mexican Latino friends are used to being called Mexicans, and most of them hate it. I don’t blame them. I don’t think an American would like to be called Canadian or a Korean, Japanese. Even though many ignorant people think we’re all “Mexicans,” we are not. I do, however, love the bond I feel I share with my Latino brothers and sisters in the US.