The 1,763-Day Weekend
Part 4 — Post-Proposal Missed Opportunity #1
The first opportunity I had to back away from marrying NowEx presented itself exactly one week after I had proposed, on New Year’s 2008, just hours before I was to fly back to Halifax.
That evening we had made a few calls to Canada via Skype, namely to MexiGoth, with whom NowEx had stayed during his last days in Montréal, to my family gathered in Moncton, and to the Queen of Sheba’s annual “Eggs and Roses” party in Halifax. Afterwards and very suddenly, his mood changed. He made some very unkind remarks about my sister-in-law’s accent, among other unkind remarks about other people (except, of course, his fellow Mexican). Then, upon not only failing to find the humour but being thoroughly offended by these videos of hapless kittycats, he stormed off to bed just minutes before midnight, leaving me sitting outside by myself on the landing in front of his 5th- and top-floor apartment to watch the New Year’s fireworks from the Zócalo, exploding, from my vantage point, behind the Torre Latinoamericana.
It didn’t feel right at all. Was I making a mistake? Sitting there watching the fireworks, I was recalling the instances over the previous 10 days when that question popped into my mind until I quickly banished it on the grounds that I was probably making a big deal out of nothing.
- Like when he’d blown his fuse over how I didn’t instinctly know how to move about in Mexico.
- Or how frustrated he got because I couldn’t yet speak Spanish and didn’t always catch on the first time.
- Or how his then-friend Jorge had to tell him to slow down as we moved about Mexico City, for while he knew exactly where he was taking me, I was completely reliant on him and, since I’m no mind reader and didn’t know the city, I was having trouble keeping up because I didn’t know we had to turn left here and right there to get to Place A or Place B.
- Or how he just couldn’t let go of how I got the equivalent of $80 Canadian picked from my jean pocket as we got shoved into a crowded subway at Balderas station. I quickly laughed it off — “For eighty bucks, I wish I had at least felt the grope!” — but he was devastated over the impression this incident might have been giving me of Mexico. We’d resolved that I would let him carry my money from that point. (With hindsight, I think the reason he was so upset is that it went counter to his belief that “there’s no racism in Mexico,” but this incident proved that there’s definitely profiling among petty criminals when they spot a fair-skinned, blue-eyes, silver-haired gringo who was probably overheared speaking English.)
- Or — worse of all — when the narco police in Oaxaca State pulled over the taxi we were in as we were leaving Zipolite and he, as always, had some mota on him which he quickly hid under the back seat, and when we were let back into the car and allowed to drive away because, by some miracle or incompetence, the cops hadn’t found his stash, he started laughing and said, “I love strong emotions like that!” (while I was still having visions of myself, the stupid and naïve Canadian gringo who couldn’t speak Spanish and who ironically never touched the stuff, rotting away in a Mexican jail cell under the presumption of guilt rather than innocence).
But in order to shake off the bad feeling, I rationalized — though deep down I didn’t believe a word — that things would get better as I would speak more Spanish and become more familiar with Mexico and its megalopolis. NowEx knew there was only one line that I, myself, would not cross, and that was mota or any other illicit drug (for me, that is, but for him I couldn’t care less). In short, to marry a Mexican, I thought, I had to make myself Mexican while in Mexico, just as I assumed (very, very, very incorrectly) that he had adapted to Canada while he was here the previous summer.
My (and Others’) Take on Mexicans in Canada
I’ve observed that among Latinos/Hispanics and especially Mexicans, Argentines are generally disliked. They’re viewed as smug, racist due to having far fewer mestizos than other countries in Latin America, and thinking of themselves as more European. I’m in no position to debate whether or not these accusations are true; however, I find it interesting how one of my Spanish instructors, who was from Argentina, pointed out that even the most recent European immigrants to that country all make a point of adopting Spanish as their primary language. In fact, my instructor, who was first-generation Argentine of Italian descent with the very Italian family name of Capri, could hardly hold a conversation in Italian.
Just over a year ago, I found myself “at the tubs,” as Cleopatrick would say. There, I had a bit of fun with some guy originally from Guatemala who had been adopted and had come to Québec more than 20 years ago. After we had had our fun, he noticed my ring which I continue to wear and inevitably raised the topic of my marital status. When I revealed that NowEx was from Mexico, he put his hand on his head which he was shaking in a No sign and said in flawless Québecois slang, “Les Mexicains, ch’us p’us capable!” (Mexicans, I just can’t stand them anymore!).
He explained how he is surrounded by hispanophones from around the world at work. However, because they’re in Québec, they all speak French at work …except for the Mexicans who, he claims, constantly huddle among themselves and carry on in Spanish. He went on to say that, of all the Latinos, Mexicans are the least likely to make a serious effort to adapt to being in Québec — “They’re always trying to replicate Mexico here,” he said — and are the most likely to make disparaging remarks about the people of their adopted land.
“Quebecolandia…” I said.
“Oh, there’s no mistaking you were with a Mexican for having heard that one!” he replied, laughing.
No kidding! While I was listening to him, I felt he was reading a page that had a profile of NowEx, complete with the proposterous remark that “Mexico and Mexicans aren’t racist,” which I suppose excludes Argentines since they’re essentially white and racism can only be directed toward non-whites [sic].