Dear Mexican: I’m a pocha, and my husband is a gabacho. (By the way, we loved your explanation in your book of why Mexicans and Irish get along so well—it really explained a lot about our marriage.) We had the rehearsal dinner for our wedding catered by one of our favorite Mexican restaurants. Two guests from Santa Fe thought our choice of the caterer was hysterical, because the restaurant is called Sancho’s. They explained to us that in Santa Fe, a sancho is a “back door man.” I had never heard this before.
Is sancho a term just in Santa Fe, or among all Mexicans (except for, apparently, me)?
Don’t Need No Sanchos
Dear Pocha: Sancho as a euphemism for anal sex? That’s a new one for me—and I know all the pervert sexual euphemisms out there, from the infamous Dirty Sanchez to even the Angry Dragon.
I’m more familiar with sancho as Mexican Spanish slang for the other man in a relationship—in other words, the man a husband or boyfriend knows his mujer is cheating with when said husband or boyfriend isn’t around. (The female equivalent is sancha.) The palabra comes from a Mexican Spanish farming term for a “male animal raised by a female animal that isn’t its mother,” according to the definition offered by the Real Academia Española (RAE), the world’s much-fabled custodians of Cervantes. It’s a perfect description of a cheater: After all, the woman is taking care of someone who’s not theirs.
The mystery for the Mexican, though, is why sancho—which is also a proper name, à la Sancho Panza—took on such a strange meaning. The RAE only says it comes from sanch, which they say is the call used to round up pigs. The Mexican thinks the researcher who wrote that etymology had his sancha underneath his desk when brushing up THAT entry …
I’m a white middle-class guy from a part of the country that very obviously used to be Mexico—and might again someday, if some people there get their way.
I don’t think it was any accident that my forebears ended up where they did—I’m proudly told we have a long pattern of being less-white white people. But that does not mean that people in my family do not grow up to wear American Eagle and name their children things like Harper, Logan and Madison. They are also white in other ways: Stuck up! When I moved to Denver, I called my second cousin to hang out. I was very friendly with most of that side, and our dads grew up together in New Mexico. Well, we did not wind up hanging out—because she thought I was calling up to date her.
Mexican, I am sad. Not because my stuck-up cousin won’t hang out with or date me, but because we went from being so interesting to being so sterile. I understand white people who wish they were ethnic, but I don’t know that I’m qualified to get a tattoo of the Virgin. Some white people shave half their head and join other white people who want to be more “real” or more “gutter” or something, but I may not join them, because most of them are also named Logan and Harper.
What can a white guy do to take a stand for decency and hang on to whatever is left?
White Middle-Class Guy
Dear Gabacho: Who says you’re not ethnic? Trying to mack on your second cousin is a VERY Mexican thing to do!
Mexicans encourage gabachos to be proud of their ethnic heritage, whether you’re a mick, honky, limey, goombah, squarehead, armo, ruski or whatever chingada slur is used against Croats. That’s different than expressing general “white pride,” a term loaded with supremacist overtones, undertones and every tone except sense.
Ask the Mexican at firstname.lastname@example.org; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!