Why Do You Do Your 'Dos the Way You Do?

Dear Mexican,

I just don't get Mexicans and their grooming. The men slick their hair with baby oil, gel or Vaseline, or just shave it all off. The women wear it in ponytails with neon-green hairbands or in pigtails, or wear bangs created with the biggest curling iron in the world. Do they see themselves in the mirror before leaving home? Do they realize everyone is staring 'cause they look bad?

Tommy Toupee

Dear Gabacho,

Not only do we stare at our hair in the mirror, but we also blow kisses to our reflection and whisper, "Ay papi chulo, you're ms bonito than those gabachos feos." If there's one body feature that Mexicans can boast about -- besides the glorious guts of our men and the asses grandes of the mujeres -- it's follicles, repositories of the world's hair DNA. Kinky, straight, curly or wavy, the Mexican head is pregnant with possibility, and Mexicans do everything possible to draw attention to what humans can do with a comb and three pounds of gel. Some hairstyles are utilitarian: The Mexi-mullet protects the neck from the brutal sun, while bangs allow our ladies to hide switchblades. Other styles, like indigenous pigtails or Zach de la Rocha's frizzy 'fro, sing the body Mexican. But the best Mexican hair involves Three Flowers brilliantine, the lightly scented petroleum jelly revered by generations of Mexicans for its tight hold, pleasant smell and a shine that rivals a flashlight; women use it to slick their hair into buns, men to sculpt Morrissey-esque pompadours. Class, thy name is mexicano. Oh, and contrary to popular belief, no self-respecting Mexican man shaves his head: That's the domain of pendejo cholos and their Chicano cousins.

Dear Mexican,

I am a nice-looking white girl with a great job and life. I recently starting seeing a Mexican guy, who I'm pretty certain I scare the crap out of. He has never dated a white woman before and seems very nervous around me. He also asks me about the education and status of my ex-husband and previous boyfriends. I really feel like he thinks he is not good enough for me, although I don't know why. He is gorgeous, hardworking and so kind. I have never been one to care about what someone does, where they're from or how much money they make. How can I get this guy to just relax and see that I really like him as a person?

Enamorada Gabacha

Dear Gabacha in Love,

The first draft of my answer to your question ended this way: "You want to soothe your Mexican man's frayed nerves, Enamorada? Give him a blow job." Thinking this was too glib, I wrote a second draft in which I explained the minefield of race and class that you and your beloved will have to cross. I noted that dating a gabacha is the pinnacle of a Mexican man's sexual life, proof that he can navigate bedrooms as easily as borders. I cited the Orson Welles classic Touch of Evil (notice white-hot Janet Leigh is married to protagonist Mexican Mike Varga -- Charlton Heston in brownface), and I considered norteo supergroup Los Tigres del Norte's "El Mojado Acaudalado" ("The Wealthy Wetback"): "Deca una gera en Florida / 'I love you Mexican men' " (Said a white woman in Florida / "Amo a ustedes hombres mexicanos"). By the time I'd worked through all of that, I concluded that my first answer was best: Nothing eradicates ego and all of its clunky superficialities (race, class, culture), nothing says I love you, nothing says "Welcome to America," like an old-school blow job.


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