Dear Mexican: I live in a suburb of Dallas, am super-white, and make decent money. Naturally, I have a Mexican gardener/lawn dude who works his ass off, has 14 brothers and sisters in Guanajuato, employs his relatives, etc. He also has a sweet wife and three little boys. At this stage in life, I have lots of extra stuff – household items, dishes, clothes, toys (my three boys are older) and items you’d put on a garage sale, except I don’t do garage sales. What’s a tactful way to say, “I have a load of my used crap and you’re welcome to take it?” I grew up poor and the lessons pounded into me by the Lutheran Church say to give to those you know can use it. Is it racist to think that if he can’t use it, somebody in the extended family will? Dumb Scandinavian-American Chica
Dear Gabacha: Screw your gardener – give all your excess to this poor Mexican and his extended familia. The tactful way to handle your particular situación is by asking your Mexi if he knows anyone who needs your items. Your gardener, if he’s a good Mexican, will let you know what he and his family needs, and take it. He’ll probably take any remaining items too, but give them to poorer Mexicans when he goes back home for the holidays. The lessons pounded into us by the Catholic Church say to give to those less fortunate (ah, the Roman-Lutheran divide between charity and utilitarianism!), and it always amazed the Mexican that his out-of-work papi still asks us kids for used clothes he can gather and deliver to orphanages in Tijuana. That, America, is your Mexican invader, not the leeches of your fevered imagination.
Maybe you can help me out. My gabacho boyfriend spent Christmas with mi familia this year. Two days later, he mailed off “Thank You” cards to everyone for their gifts and hospitality. Upon asking me more than a couple of times about these cards, it struck me that he was, perhaps, waiting for “Thank You” cards from us. I told him Mexicans don’t do that. Is it all of us, or just my family, that needs a lesson from Señora Manners? La Bella sin Gracias
Dear Beauty without Thanks: What a good gabacho you have! But you’re right: Mexicans traditionally don’t send out gracias cards. The only cards we traditionally send out are arabesque invitations for weddings, quinceañeras, and baptisms listing a million padrinos and enough vellum paper to cover the Templo Mayor.