By Elizabeth Soto
Now, I don’t curse very often, and when I do it’s usually in English, but there’s something very ticklish about the more colorful words in Mexican Spanish. An especially potent mix occurs when you blend that passionate tongue with the ever rough-and-ready Spanglish dialect. What results is a raunchy banter similar to what you can hear on IgualATres (a popular comedy Youtube channel hosted by young Latino males), which is rarely non-offensive to the virgin ears of my traditional parents but always hilarious and strangely comforting to my own ears.
This situation can be explained in the following way:
Before I became a college student, I expected to be rewarded every year with the same event: winter holidays in Mexico. The last few years we did go to Mexico, starting a few months before mid-December, I would anticipate anticipating the desire to go back to my cold hometown in the United States. Why?
For no good reason at all, I felt like I was split between two worlds: Napa, CA and Zinapecuaro, Mich. I grew up speaking Spanish, eating traditional home cooking, and interacting with many others of first or second-generation Mexican descent bonding over how Mexican our families were. My most vivid memories of vacations in Mexico involve watching the Mexican dubbed version of Dragonball Z (a Japanese cartoon, for all you non-DBZ fans) or Mexican dubbed American horror movies, Child’s Prey most prominent among them. My cousins and I bonded most quickly over a shared interest in American pop culture. When I am in America, I boast about and moan over my Mexican roots, which become weaker with every passing year. When I was in Mexico, I spent most of my time dabbling in second-hand American music and films when I wasn’t thinking about how terrible the waste disposal and sanitation systems were.
After three years of abstinence, I think I might have found an answer to this problem in IgualATres’s videos. The main host makes no apologies for his regional LA dialect and takes pride both in his raunchy Mexican heritage and his raunchier LA background. He rolls out curse words, idioms and cultural references familiar to most Latinos, both in the United States and Latin America, in such a way that I feel his jokes merely add an extra spice to his friendly, familiar banter. At first, I thought it was funny because it was so stereotypically Latino, or Xicano, but the more I watched, the more I felt at home. I can’t call LA my home, but I feel more comfortable imagining daily life there now than I do in either Napa or Zinapecuaro.
Maybe it’s due to stopping my annual trips cold turkey and having the usual anticipation overflow, or maybe because my parents tend to spin ¾ of their conversation about life in Mexico, but sometimes I feel like I don’t belong here. Yet I know that even if I save up money for a plane ticket and go back to Mexico, I will only be repeating the same childhood cycle. I know this is nothing new to say, but I am stuck in “the borderlands” with nowhere to go. For now, my one-sided dialogues with IgualATres satisfy my desire to fit in and I pay homage to the cast of this show with their opening line: “¿Qué tal, mi familia?”
For more posts about being lost in translation, click here.