Soto Like Mexicans

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Like Mexicans Gary Soto (1952 -) My grandmother gave me bad advice and good advice when I was in my early teens. For the bad advice, she said that I should become a barber because they made good money and listened to the radio all day. “Honey, they don’t work como burros,” she would say every time I visited her. She made the sound of donkeys braying. “Like that, honey!” For the good advice, she said that I should marry a Mexican girl. “No Okies, hijo”—she would say— “Look, my son. He marry one and they fight every day about I don’t know what and I don’t know what.” For her, everyone who wasn’t Mexican, black, or Asian were Okies. The French were Okies, the Italians in suits were Okies. When I asked about Jews, whom I had read about,…show more content…
When they sat together in the lunchroom, heads pressed together, I knew they were talking about us Mexican guys. I saw them and dreamed them. I threw my face into my pillow, making up sentences that were good as in the movies. But when I was twenty, I fell in love with this other girl who worried my mother, who had my grandmother asking once again to see the calendar of the Important Races of the World. I told her I had thrown it away years before. I took a much-glanced-at snapshot from my wallet. We looked at it together, in silence. Then grandma reclined in her chair, lit a cigarette, and said, “Es pretty.” She blew and asked with all her worry pushed up to her forehead: “Chinese?” I was in love and there was no looking back. She was the one. I told my mother who was slapping hamburger into patties. “Well, sure if you want to marry her,’ she said. But the more I talked, the more concerned she became. Later I began to worry. Was it all a mistake? “Marry a Mexican girl,” I heard my mother say in my mind. I heard it at breakfast. I heard it over math problems, between Western Civilization and cultural geography. But then one afternoon while I was hitchhiking home from school, it struck me like a baseball in the back: my mother wanted me to marry someone of my own social class—a poor girl. I considered my fiancee, Carolyn, and she didn’t look poor, though I knew she came from a family of farm workers and pull-yourself-upby-your-bootstraps
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