The California Diary: In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, people talk to me because I’m brown

In today’s installment of my bi-polar look at the Golden State, I write about those folks of like-tinted skin around here who just enjoy stopping me so that they could speak Spanish to me.

It’s mildly annoying, especially when I’m in a hurry, but overall I guess it’s nice for them to chat in their native tongue. The irony is that the first language I ever learned was Spanish. But since enrolling in public school I lost a lot of the vocabulary and now speak a version of it more closely resembling Tex-Mex.

Lemme ‘splain.

The action “to park” in Spanish is “estacionar,” not as Tex-Mexers say, “parquear,” which is adding a suffix to the phrase “to park” to sound more Spanish phoneticallly.

In any case, I’m a master of Tex-Mex language, if you remember. So during these conversations I have to reach back way deep into my memory and try to retrieve this language that I learned from my grandparents to keep up with the conversations. I have these conversations with them (on person thought I was from El Salvador), and it really refreshes my Spanish vocab.

So in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month (which I absolutely don’t celebrate) I’ll keep stopping and chatting with Enrique, who will talk to me about life in Mexico, and how not to worry about those mistakes your kids will make because it’ll only make you grow older faster. Let them make those mistakes, he says, it’s theirs to deal with, not yours.

Despite chats with Enrique and the El Salvador native whose name I didn’t catch even after our fist bump when I told him I was actually from Texas, but my ethnicity was Mexican and he said in Spanish “It’s the same thing,” it’s kind of cool. Sure people dodge me when I take a stroll along the streets (OK, it happened once, but that Asian lady really bolted across the street), I really don’t notice my skin color is different.

I guess in time other folks won’t notice it, either.

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