By JUAN DE JESÚS BREENE
I was helping out a 25-year-old American with some legal advice the other day and he made a mistake on something.
Instinctively, I said, “Don’t sweat it; you’re a kid and I’m a senior.”
He later reprimanded me by saying, “I just turned 25, and think of myself as a young man rather than a kid,” to which I could not resist the reply of, “You’re actually a baby.”
So as he got more comfortable, he started asking me some things about Mexico that had nothing to do with his legal questions.
“Do you think Mexican girls will find me intriguing?” he asked.
I thought to myself, that is a very odd question to ask someone who could be his grandfather.
I tried encouraging him to read Jorge Castaneda’s “Mañana o Pasado: El Misterio de los Mexicanos,” which does a much better job of explaining the Mexican mindset, but I told him how I see things.
Upper class and upper middle class Mexicans who travel frequently to the United States and Canada will typically not be interested in foreigners, I said.
Some will consider you have nothing to bring to the table and can buy and sell you. Many of this social group consider U.S. citizens to be not fully educated and find institutional flaws such as the U.S. obsession with guns either comical or an outrage in a country with so many resources, I continued.
As for poor Mexicans, most are too worried about survival to be interested in Americans, one way or the other.
Foreigners might be great to sell to, but as far as confidence levels go, the poorer end of the social scale might be afraid of foreigners, especially Americans, I said.
There is one exception: In the truly small towns of Mexico, often in the middle of nowhere, each household might have a family member who is or was working as an undocumented migrant in the United States. Their perspective is often reflected by that very segmented view of U.S. life.
“Now, members of Mexico’s lower middle class, that’s who wants to get to know you,” I said.
“They know all about the United States, from movies, TV shows and being forced to learn English in school. However, they often cannot get a visa to travel and likely do not have funds or time off from work to go that far.”
So, yes, I said, that group will find you “intriguing,” maybe, and probably only if you are a nice guy.
He really was a kid, even if he considered himself a young man.