Dear Mexican: Why do white guys still think it’s cute to call a Latina “spicy”?

Serene Serena

Dear Pocha: The term hasn’t just applied to mexicanas; I’ve found newspaper clippings from 1866 hailing the virtues of a “spicy woman.” But referring to the better sex by her hotness nowadays is almost universally applied to Mexican mujeres.

The answer is obvious: It’s been ingrained in the American consciousness ever since gabachos discovered our women and chile, and decided they wanted chiles in their mouths, and our women on their puny chiles. In that light, it’s easy to understand why gaba men still use such antiquated, sexist, racist language: They’re gabachos. It’s like asking why a dog eats its own caca.

And now, a quick etymological lesson: The earliest mention I could find of referring to a woman as a “hot tamale” is in a 1909 Philadelphia Star article; the earliest example of referring to a “señorita” as “spicy” happened in a 1919 advertisement in The Seattle Star for a vaudeville show called The Spanish Vamp that promised “A Spicy Dish of Senoritas”; and the earliest use of “spicy señorita” is in a 1940 St. Louis Post-Dispatch ad for Down Argentine Way, a Betty Grable/Don Ameche/Carmen Miranda musical that offered “Spicy Senoritas … Sultry Songs … in the South American Way!” And, : In the latter two shows, there is no tilde over “senorita” because tildes weren’t invented for the English language until 1978.

Dear Mexican: I’ve always wondered during my travels in Mexico why they paint the bark of their trees white. I’ve heard that it helps with controlling pests, or that it helps with protecting young trees from sunburn.

Can you please tell me the correct reason why this practice is followed? Trees are much more attractive when you leave them in their natural state and natural color.

Go Green

Dear Gabacha: What you’ve heard is right. Also: Trees are much more attractive when they’re alive instead of dead.

Dear Mexican: Why are all Mexicans so hardheaded? I was working a promotion last fall at Reliant Stadium (in Houston) for the Fiestas Patrias, and in the process, I came to realize that Mexican people just won’t understand the meaning of “I can’t” or “No.” These people wouldn’t understand I couldn’t just give them a shirt featuring the Mexican soccer team, because it was only for people who would activate a phone. They also kept begging to give them backpacks after we had run out of them. I would tell them “Wey, ya no tenemos, en serio,” and the Mexican would repeat, “Sí, wey, sí tienes. Ándale, dame una para mi hijo. Tu puedes.

At that point, I began to wonder: What the fuck is wrong with us? Why can’t we understand? Dear Mexican, explain to me why!

I’ve Done Half the Fifth Ward

Dear Pocho: And you know the dad wanted the backpack for himself, amiright?

Mexicans are stubborn because that’s the only way to cope with life when you have little else. But I’m also noticing another Mexi-tendency here: Our knowledge that everyone’s always on the take, and that all you need to get what you want is to know the right palabras, or offer the right amount of cash. We learned that from the best source imaginable: American electoral politics, which makes Mexico’s PRI oligarchy look like Jimmy Stewart’s character in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

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