Questionable Pronouncements

Im a gringa married to a mexicano and we have a 3-year-old son. His family is wonderful, for the most part, and they adore my son, but as he is getting older, his tíos are trying to "toughen him up" and make him more macho. So far, theyve taught him how to cuss (in both languages) and flip people off (like his preschool teacher). Lately, theyve taught him to say inappropriate things about womens bodies. Ive talked to my husband, but he doesnt want to say anything to them and doesnt seem to care. How can I get them to stop?
Mami Dearest

Dear Gabacha:
Knock machismo all you want, but this reviled gender role isn't the horror show people make it out to be. There's nothing wrong about men teaching boys how to become hombres and navigate this vida loca, or for the males of a species to instill a sense of responsibility and pride in their sons so they can assist family and community. Indeed, that's a cornerstone value of all sentient beings. Where being macho crosses the border of good taste is when it becomes a mockery of itself, and that's not limited to Mexicans — look at the thuggery in hip-hop, or our pendejo-in-chief. About your specific complaints against the in-laws: better your darling hijo learn about lechery from familia instead of strangers, no? But tell the uncles to can the vulgarities until your kid's at least old enough to hotwire a car.

Are Mexicans really baptized in bean dip?
Frito Laid

Dear Gabacho:
Yes, but only because Jesus once said, "Blessed are the refried, for they shall inherit the Southwest United States."

When I recently pronounced "Cabernet Sauvignon" as "kab-er-net saw-vig-nun," I was greeted with jeers and quick gleeful correction. The same thing happened when I pronounced bologna as "boe-log-naw." Yet when Im at Rubios, I never hear anyone roll the double-r in "burrito" or correctly express the accents while saying words like taco or salsa — and no one seems to care. What accounts for the difference, the disrespect for one language and the adamant protection of another?
La Chulita Mexicana Catolica

Dear Cutie Mexican Catholic:
Haven't you heard? Spanish is the language of living in the ghetto, at least according to former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. And he's right. Really, what's the point of properly pronouncing the language of Cervantes when all that'll earn you is a horchata refill and a higher salary? Enunciating French, German, and other European loanwords correctly is so much more important — heaven forbid you offend the literati at some cocktail party or wine bar. Joking aside, your experiences perfectly illustrate the gabacho mind — forever deferential to the customs and traditions of its European ancestors, forever dismissive of everyone else's culture. Melting pot, my pompis. By the way, remember that dicho about those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones? The English pronunciation of "taco" and "salsa" are the same in English and Spanish, and you forgot to include an accent over the "o" in "católica."

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Gustavo Arellano
Contact: Gustavo Arellano