BY GUSTAVO ARELLANO
As everyone knows, dogs seem to reflect their masters' personalities. Likewise, the breeds invented by a nation say a lot about that nation. Germans bred the German Shepard and Rottweilers: smart, loyal, faithful, yet a little cold and not the kind of dogs you want to piss off. The French created the poodle: all about style, yappy, not great fighters, yet not as dumb as they look. Canadians created the Labrador retriever: good hunters and friendly family dogs. Gringos seem to have adopted the pit bull as the national dog — both are reactive killers of children.
When I think of Mexican breeds, one type comes to mind: the Chihuahua, play toys for fresas like Paris Hilton. After thinking much harder, I thought of the xoloitzcuintle: bald and edible. Are these dogs the best representatives of the national character of Mexico? Does a Chihuahua really fit a nation of macho men and feisty women? Or are you really a nation of perros electricos: scrappy little survivors in need of some updated marketing? — Dueño de un Perro Eléctrico
Dear Owner of an Electric Dog. Tengo que take issue with your pit bull characterization. My chica caliente is the proud owner of one, and she's the kindest bitch around humans (dogs are another story). With that in mind, I'd argue that pit bulls are the quintessential American dog, as wabs, negritos and gabachos alike own them for the same reason the world respects and fears Americans — a Manichean innateness that loves and kills with equal ease. The difference in comportment for both is a reflection of the trainer, and the results show up quickly — just look at us after eight years of the Bush II administration.
Ahora, on to the Mexican dogs. Don't give up so easily, Dueño: Mexico's two indigenous breeds fully represent the Mexican soul. The American Kennel Club doesn't recognize the xoloitzcuintle (also known as the Mexican hairless) even though the noble critters date back millennia, much like Congress won't recognize illegal Mexicans despite their many years of working in the United States. Chihuahuas are even more quintessentially Mexican: Napoleonic in complex, clannish, usually brown but available in all colors, maligned by gabachos as puny runts but secretly ferocious and smart and bearers of muchos, muchos babies. Some PC pendejos might cringe at the comparison, but hey: better the anthropomorphic conversation deal with dogs than cockroaches, ¿qué no?
I'm a restaurant owner in Las Vegas. How come when a Mexican comes to apply for a job, he or she will bring several friends and sometimes their entire family? And when I ask them for their call back phone number, they get all paranoid and fumble through two or three phone numbers before they give the "right one." Dude, I'm not asking for their social security number! — Chef Viva Las Vegas
Dear Gabacho: Dude, the desert sun has cooked your brain into carne asada. Mexicans are bringing along friends and familia because they want you to give them a job. That's how so many Mexicans came here in the first place: gabachos hired Mexicans, who knew other Mexicans and urged their bosses to hire them, who knew others until one day, Americans needed to dial 1 for English. Trust those family-bringing Mexicans and make sure to put the smartest one in the head slot to whip his compas into shape. As for the carousel of phone numbers, the answer is any number of reasons: Maybe the Mexican in question is debating whether to give you a cell or home number. Perhaps they just moved into town and honestly can't remember their new número. But it's probably just that they're trying to remember which stolen identity they're using on that particular día.
Got a spicy question about Mexicans? Ask the Mexican at email@example.com. Letters will be edited for clarity, cabrones. And include a hilarious pseudonym, por favor, or we'll make one up for you!
Gustavo Arellano is an investigative reporter on staff at the OC Weekly in Orange County, California. His "¡Ask a Mexican!" column began in 2004 and today is syndicated in 32 publications nationwide. He is also the author of a book by the same name. An extensive interview with Arellano can be found in the EW archives online for Nov. 29, 2007. Arellano can be contacted at TheMexican@AskAMexican.net