21 December 2011

Why I Never Dated a Latino

I never purposely chose not to date a Latino. My first major crush happened when I was 10 years old, and it was on a boy from Mexico City just a couple of years older than me – I suffered a horrible case of unrequited love (although he never knew about it) until I was 16 years old. As a teenager, of course, I thought he was “cute”, but I was also drawn to the fact that he read a lot of books and played classical violin. Most of all, I thought the way he spoke perfect Spanish was absolutely dreamy. Eventually, I got over him, especially when I figured out that Latina girls weren’t part of his dating repertoire.

I went to a mostly Mexican-American high school bordering East Los Angeles, and even though I liked some of the boys, they just never seemed to pay attention to me in any romantic way. They always regarded me as a pal or buddy, an honorary sister, or the girl they’d come to for academic advice. I guess it didn’t help that I was at the top of my class, somewhat eccentric, and extremely shy. To be fair, I did attract the attention of a few boys, but they were the creepy, weird ones that were even too odd for me. The girls in my school who got asked to the dances or had the boyfriends were socially outgoing, athletic and confident, and way more fashionable.

It wasn’t until the summer after the 11th grade, when I traveled all the way across the country to Pittsburgh for a pre-college summer camp, that I liked a boy – and he liked me back. He was Jewish (culturally, but not religiously, whatever that means), and he played the violin. It might have turned out happily ever after, but I returned to California and he to Vermont. We intended to maintain a long-distance relationship until we were old enough to get married, and we wrote piles of love letters to each other for nearly seven months. It didn’t work out. In fact, I think the only reason I fell for him was because he played the violin, and I was still heartbroken over the violinist boy from Mexico City.

I met another non-Latino boy of Irish ancestry in Southern California when I was in the 12th grade. All my Mexicans friends teased me for it because he was “white,” as if I was some sort of traitor to the cause. This definitely didn’t help my status as the girl who acted so “white.” There were a few boys in college of course. None of them were Latino, either, I guess because I didn’t know any at all. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is not necessarily the hotbed of Latino culture.

To make the long story short, I moved to Austin in 1998, but it wasn’t until ten years later that I came across Latinos who were potential matches for me – college-educated, interested in music and the arts, and slightly unconventional. (Austin, compared to Los Angeles, seems ethnically segregated to me.) But by then, it was too late. I’d already fallen in love with a handsome and talented musician of Scottish and Prussian heritage, who – as it turns out – has schooled me on Mexican history, border politics, and traditional music.

Our first trip together was hopping on a bus in East Austin down to Monterrey, from where we journeyed to Saltillo and then to Parras, home of the oldest winery of the Americas. We’ve learned mariachi songs and cooked traditional Mexican cuisine together. His favorite gift I’ve given to him is a vintage serape. And one day, we plan to build a little adobe house in the Chihuahuan desert of Terlingua and have pet donkeys. So his last name isn’t Martinez, and he is fair-skinned and reddish-haired, but he is definitely a Latino at heart.

Undercover Mexican Girl's Senior Prom

1 comment:

  1. I just searched undercover Mexican and found this.. pretty interesting story. Reason I searched was cause people have always seen me as a white boy, though I speak Spanish pretty fluently and it surprises people. lol so "undercover Mexican". I guess I can't completely relate to the teen/young adult Mexican population around here so that's why I don't hang out with them as much, though I am friends with a few. So it's not as obvious to the rest when I'm not so into the culture out loud, or even a loud person for that matter. If you don't know me you just don't.