Dear Mexican: We’re in state testing this week at the high school where I teach. After the students finish a section, they can only sit and read, or just sit. I did an experiment: I chose the cholo-est, tattooed, pierced nonreaders and dropped your book on their desks. The students that never read were reading for 45 minutes straight. They were seeing words that they use every day in print for the first time. They had as much fun with the glossary as with the questions. They were sharing, laughing and discussing what they read. Then I set the hook: “We’ll be using that book in my Chicano Studies class.” Best recruiting tool ever.

That’s my personal copy, and it’s getting beat up. I’ll be ordering more for the classroom. Thanks again: you have made my job much easier.

Maestro Man

Dear Gabacho: It’s stories like yours that make writing this column worth all the hate mail. The próxima question, on the other hand …

I’m a 23-year-old Mexican girl in my second year at a California state university, and I work part-time at a hospital. I’m dating a white boy who is 25, who works a minimum-wage job and who graduated with a GED. We have been dating for more than a year now, but when we were about six months into the relationship, we decided to move out together. Due to our financial difficulties, we had to move back in with our parents. Now, my traditional father is almost forcing us to get married since we have lived together, or else he wants me to dump him and find someone else who is doing better for himself. It’s so bad that now my white boyfriend does not feel comfortable coming over.

How do I confront my Mexican father? What do I tell my white boyfriend?

A Confused and Sad Mexican Girl

Dear Wabette: While I’m all for new traditions and the exiling of rancho mores to the rancho, don’t discount your father’s partial common sense. Primeramente, you’re WAY too young to be settling down with one guy right now—dios mío, you haven’t even finished college! And while I’m not going to hate on folks who have earned only a GED, a gabacho who wasn’t able to graduate high school when he was supposed to is like a Mexican man who was only able to eat 10 tacos at the last family carne-asada Sunday—a disgrace to the raza, and not much of an hombre.

Not only that, if your dad really was old escuela, he’d have problems with you going to college, period! So pay attention to your papi saying to look for someone else, but do tell him that the days of a woman having to marry the first man who bedded her went the way of the tequila bottle at my friend Gaby’s wedding.

Finally, refry your humble Mexican’s advice, chula: There are many flavors of chorizo in the market, so why buy the first one you see instead of tasting all of them? And finish your education and find yourself a career before getting a novio—the future you’re saving is your own.

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