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24 Sep 2014

Ask a Mexican: Why Do Mexican Dudes Only Cry When Drunk?

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Dear Mexican: I enjoy the use of language by Chicanos, mexicanos and Mexican Americans. Humor and a sardonic sense of history, in my view, are encapsulated in many everyday expressions. Two examples are the use of huey (or perhaps buey) and rollo. In the first case, perhaps buey (ox) is a bitterly ironic reference to the term huey tlatoani, “ruler of Mexico-Tenochtitlan,” I read about in Fifteen Poets of the Aztec World by Miguel León-Portilla. In the second case, I’ve heard young Chicanos use the word rollo, for conversation or dialogue, perhaps seeing themselves as seated Aztecs uttering word-scrolls. What do you think?

Cuauhtémoc’s Cousin

Dear Wab: I agree that Mexican Spanish is a magnificent thing, and you forgot to throw in caló, albures and double-entendres to the roll call of linguistic desmadre. But your folk etymologies are a bit off.

We derive buey (or, güey and wey) from the Latin bovis, the term for an ox. As I explained in one of the first ¡Ask a Mexican! columns ever, Latin cultures consider the ox to be the dummy of the animal kingdom, much in the same way gabachos think of an ass, so the Aztecs (and Central Americans, for that matter) got that insult from the Spaniards. Huey, on the other hand, meant “exalted” in Nahuatl when referring to the Aztec king, and while the capacity of Mexican-Spanish humor is almost limitless, no one ever thinks of Montezuma when calling someone a pinche güey, even if he was a pinche güey.

Rollo is a different rola, on the other hand: In other words, it also comes from the Spaniards via the Latins and has nothing to do with the Aztec codices. Then again, I think you’re mishearing the young Chicanos, because I’ve never heard them use rollo to describe a conversation, but have heard them say rola more than not. Then again, maybe I’m hanging out with too many chilangos

Why is it that Mexican putos can only cry when drunk out of their minds? They always use the lame excuse that they don’t cry so they can last longer in the cama! When you’re young, I understand, but nearing your 60s? Give me a break! And, yes, these are real big mamadas! Back in the day, the mujer fell for this crap! And they wonder why we don’t stay in a relationship for years, because it slips from the cama to thinking you belong in the kitchen 24/7 … vamos a la chingada.

Chicana que no se Deja ser Chingada

Dear Chicana Who Won’t Allow Herself to Get Fucked Over: The best response to this came from ranchera legend Vicente Fernández, at a concert I once saw him at in Anaheim. Borracho out of his mind, Chente began crying onstage. “I’m not crying, güeyes,” Chente roared as he crooned the José Alfredo Jiménez barn-burner “Tu Recuerdo y Yo.” “My eyes are sweating!”

You know how it goes with hombres: That whole machismo front is a farce. And the only thing that brings it down is the bottle … and maybe the death of their rooster.

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

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