The other night I was at my favorite hamburger stand, Constantino’s, and I struck up a conversation with him about his absence the day before. He asked me a few questions before introducing me to a chavo (cowboy) from California. He said we should chat. We did. I couldn’t keep my eyes off this chavo’s gold and silver embellishments on his teeth. His smile flashing under the streetlamps.
Over the course of the short conversation, I learned that he had two children, and he had been married for fifteen years but is divorced now. I am getting used to family relationships being among the first things discussed amongst strangers. It is more familiar for me to talk about work and who I am in this realm, but we pushed on. When I said that I am married, he asked how long I will be in Oaxaca and immediately suggested that I need a Mexican boyfriend. Turning from potato salesman (to accompany the hamburgers), he tried to sell me on the idea, enumerating the reasons I ought to consider obtaining a Oaxacan, in particular, man on the side. Among the services he listed: someone to go to the beach with.
If I had not had this same conversation numerous times before, I might be offended. Instead, I noted this exchange as something to figure out in conversation class. My question, “Knowing this is a playful way that Oaxacan men often provoke conversation, particularly in taxis, how should one respond?’ My teacher, a Oaxacan man, said that one should laugh – and then get a Oaxacan boyfriend. I said, hahahahahaha.