I felt all Brown Power after a weekend spent doing things a Latino guy should know how to do: Extracting a headlight casing from a junkyard Pontiac, and, less than 24 hours later, planting a magnolia tree. Dang, I told a friend. I feel Hispanic.
She cringed. You’re not supposed to say that! she hissed, apologetically.
We set up these months to recognize those things unique and beautiful about a culture. But the mention of them – skills proudly associated with my people, mechanically and horticulturally – is perceived by some non-minority as a slap in the face to the minority.
First, I’m a little late to this party, I admit. If you could see my inbox, you’d understand. I also could use a haircut. But who am I telling? This letter, though, has little to do with my hair and unanswered emails.
It has everything to do with the movement you’ve begun, by kneeling during the National Anthem before kickoff.
I happen to be a minority here in the USA. I’m the people you’re doing this for. First, I kind of appreciate that, Colin. There’s lots of hashtags out there for minorities, but generally, the ones for my people mostly have to do with #CincoDeMayo.
Seems like there’s lot of hurdles in these upcoming Summer Games.
Only some are on the track. Headlines about doping, violence, killer mosquitoes and more steal the Olympic glare from the attraction we tune in for most: The competitors. To me, the Olympics has always been a treasure chest of stories, just waiting.
Today’s guest post comes from an Olympic athlete I’m honored to have here.
Leonel Manzano carried two nations’ flags during his victory lap in the 2012 London Games. A Mexican immigrant, Leo won the first American track and field Olympic medal since 1968. His performance came to symbolize the American dream to me.
It’s partially because the entire toy section seems to be divided along pink vs. camo lines. My girls bring ferocity, in a pretty way. That’s the best way to describe it. Not hair-bow pretty, but just enough eye makeup, usually painted fingernails pretty.
Yet, they come to kick some ass.
My sport Saturday: To watch a handful of 3v3 games Grace played in, while keeping my germs at a distance, as the only guy at the field with a chill and long sleeves. I downed a couple of Gatorades on the day, one of them pink, to wash down Ibuprofen.
My name and I made one bettor some green one Super Bowl Sunday.
I worked at the Hilton for Super Bowl XLII, between the yet unbeaten New England Patriots and New York Giants in 2008. A boisterous man, upon check-in, clapped his meaty hands together – Gator style, although I don’t know where he matriculated – when he saw my nametag.
“I’ve been wanting to bet on the Giants all day!” he broke his happy white-boy clapping to say. “Your name is Eli? This is a sign! I’m betting on the G-men!”
Hours later, the Giants, a 12-point underdog, pulled of a classic upset.
A man can accomplish much in life with basic life gear.
Cover him with a ball cap from his beloved baseball team. Anoint him with a distinctive after shave. Place him behind the wheel of an automobile he’ll name, shine, neglect, restore, and trust to transport those he loves and carry him to buy corn tortillas and shin guards.
Arm him with a cast-iron skillet, and don’t be late for dinner.
Weekend cooking’s my thing. It’s easier on weekends free of soccer. Sunday night, I returned to my roots. Yes, those roots (enchiladas), but also the roots established in frontier days, when a guy’s essentials included a fast horse, a scruffy beard, a miner’s hat and a skillet.
It’s okay. I can order food in a Mexican restaurant (unless the server asks questions.) I can blurt just enough on the soccer pitch to appear coherent. And my fluency doesn’t count in one particular room of the house:
I can make my own tortillas an guacamole. Beyond the language, I also struggle with the culture. My sister and I learned to make tamales by trial and error – in the early days, mostly error.
I can’t help it. Circumstances have put my home state in the spotlight lately. The Rockies are crushing it. The Broncos are favorites to win the next Super Bowl. I’ve gotten plenty of 3Oh!3 in my Pandora. And two questions for Go Ask Daddy tie back to my home state.
Elementary school in Colorado is the most.
You learn about Stegosaurus and Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca. You read about cliff dwellers and the gold rush. There are units on the formation of the Rocky Mountains and tales of the Wild West. Some of those tales take on monstrous forms of animals too outlandish to have lived.
For me Rockies is a baseball team. Not a place to ski.
For the A to Z Challenge today, R is for Rockies. My beloved baseball team, yes, who got off to a rip-roaring start this season (7-2!) only to lose three straight (they’re losing 5-0 in the first inning as I type this and try to ignore it). My Colorado Rockies cap is well-worn and well-loved. But also the western foreground to the most spectacular sunsets I ever saw as a kid. A nod to the majestic mountains that never let me forget which way was home.
Corporal Max Klinger would fist-fight with a dude who dared insult his Toledo Mud Hens.
I’m not that kind of fan. I can’t really, because 93% of insults to my baseball team come from my kids.
My Spanish proficiency depends on my usage, directly.
For Day 4 of the A to Z Challenge, D is for Dificil. As in, the Spanish word for difficult. It’s difficult to raise children in a multicultural home when the most ethnic thing about me is that I know all the words to La Bamba.
And that I can eat refried beans without your run-of-the-mill Caucasian repercussions.