Living on the border of another country and another state, as is the case in El Paso, is quite an interesting place to be. The other day, for some reason, I got to thinking about the huge diversity there. I mean, I had thought about it before of course, but I guess reading Pilgrimage to Atzlán, Tato Laviera, and Alurista made me think about this.
In El Paso, where there is so much mixture of cultures and ideas, often times, you are identified by the license plates on your car. For example, if you were driving down the freeway and there was a car that was holding up traffic, it was almost certain that it was a Front Chih or a Chih Mex, occasionally it’d be a Land of Enchantment, but hardly ever was it a Texas plate.
Sometimes, while I was at Wal-Mart (because Wal-Mart practically runs the city) while a couple picked and chose the items at one of those self checkouts, I could almost see the mustard yellow Front Chih plates on their backs. Most of the time, I was right because by the time they loaded all their purchases into their cars, I had already left the parking lot.
The Front Chih’s and Chih Mex’s were infamous for coming over in troops on Sunday mornings or during any big sale and leaving far and few scattered sale items on the shelves. What they did with them no one really knew, unless you were of course related to one. But for the most part, my guess is that a few actually kept one of the televisions or pairs of jeans and the rest they sold to those who could not legally cross the border.
Many of us criticized this aspect, but honestly, I think we did it because we were jealous. Jealous that they could enjoy both worlds and not be referred to as Pochos. For someone in Mexico to wear Tommy Jeans was a sign of status, even if they owned one pair which they wore to every birthday party, quinceñera or boda.
It’s just their way of doing things, just like I crave their tortillas and walking the markets on a Sunday afternoon in search of fresh produce, they want to have chocolate Americano y pantalones Tommy y Guess. It’s just interesting how the people crave what the other side has.