Penqueadores

Penquear – (origin Caliche) To spank/hit/slap, golpear

We had finished eating and our youngest son had already run off to play. Carlos, our older son, Suegra and I sat around the table, our plates pushed away, and talked for awhile as we usually do.

Carlos had a small argument with one of the guys at work and was telling us about what happened. The fact that the co-worker was Mexican really didn’t have anything to do with the conversation except to identify which guy Carlos was talking about – but you can’t say “mexicano” around Suegra without her getting started. Like many older people, she has some “preconceived notions” which aren’t malicious so much as misinformed. Of course she pipes up with the usual, “Así son los mexicanos, pues.”

Carlos gives me a look that means I should bite my tongue, but I can’t keep quiet.

“No puedes juzgar a todos los mexicanos así. Tengo un montón de amigos mexicanos y son muy buena gente.” I say.

Suegra shakes her head. We go back and forth a few times. Things are getting a little heated.

“Los hombres mexicanos son muy penqueadores!” she says, as if that settles it.

I start to tell her it’s not true of all Mexican men, and that Salvadoran men have their own reputation as well, but she interrupts, as is her way.

“Y si yo estuviera una joven, jamás me voy a salir con un mexicano!”

This conversation is going no where, so I decide to tease her.

“Y si está bien meloso?”
“De eso miel, no voy a comer!” she says.
“Y si está bien guapo?” I ask.
She looks at me as if I’m an idiot.
“Los mexicanos no son guapos, vos!” she says as if it’s common sense. (Forgetting that I know for a fact she has a crush on Vicente Fernandez.)

I catch Carlos’s eye and decide not to push it further. Insisting that there are plenty of mexicanos guapos will only make him celoso and cause problems for me. The table falls quiet since I fail to return fire, and then our twelve year old, who we had forgotten was sitting there, speaks up.

“Huh,” he says, “I didn’t know Mexicans like to spank people… that’s weird.”

Because he says this in English, Suegra has no idea what’s going on when I start laughing. Carlos also isn’t sure what’s so funny until I explain. Our son managed to pick up on the word “penquear” within the word “penqueadores” – but his only reference for this word is the threat of a spanking, as in, “Te voy a penquear.” Because he doesn’t know the word out of this context, he didn’t realize it could mean “hit” or “slap.”

Of course I set him straight. I explain the word “penquear” and I also tell him you can’t judge people based on stereotypes. My son says, “Of course. I already know that!” …and I knew he did, but I just wanted to make sure. Maybe I won’t convince Suegra, but my children will know better.

33 thoughts on “Penqueadores

  1. English translation:

    Penquear – (origin Caliche) To spank/hit/slap, golpear

    We had finished eating and our youngest son had already run off to play. Carlos, our older son, Suegra and I sat around the table, our plates pushed away, and talked for awhile as we usually do.

    Carlos had a small argument with one of the guys at work and was telling us about what happened. The fact that the co-worker was Mexican really didn’t have anything to do with the conversation except to identify which guy Carlos was talking about – but you can’t say “mexicano” around Suegra without her getting started. Like many older people, she has some “preconceived notions” which aren’t malicious so much as misinformed. Of course she pipes up with the usual, “That’s how Mexicans are.”

    Carlos gives me a look that means I should bite my tongue, but I can’t keep quiet.

    “You can’t judge all Mexicans like that. I have a lot of Mexican friends and they’re really good people.” I say.

    Suegra shakes her head. We go back and forth a few times. Things are getting a little heated.

    “Mexican men are penqueadores!” [Penqueador is slang for someone who hits - in other words, she was saying that Mexican men are abusive.] she says, as if that settles it.

    I start to tell her it’s not true of all Mexican men, and that Salvadoran men have their own reputation as well, but she interrupts, as is her way.

    “And if I was young, I’d never go out with a Mexican man!”

    This conversation is going no where, so I decide to tease her.

    “And what if he was really sweet?” [the word meloso comes from the word "miel" which means honey - so sort of like "sweet as honey"]
    “From that honey, I wouldn’t eat!” she says.
    “And what if he was really handsome?” I ask.
    She looks at me as if I’m an idiot.
    “Mexican men aren’t handsome!” she says as if it’s common sense. (Forgetting that I know for a fact she has a crush on Vicente Fernandez.)

    I catch Carlos’s eye and decide not to push it further. Insisting that there are plenty of mexicanos guapos [handsome Mexican guys] will only make him celoso [jealous] and cause problems for me. The table falls quiet since I fail to return fire, and then our twelve year old, who we had forgotten was sitting there, speaks up.

    “Huh,” he says, “I didn’t know Mexicans like to spank people… that’s weird.”

    Because he says this in English, Suegra has no idea what’s going on when I start laughing. Carlos also isn’t sure what’s so funny until I explain. Our son managed to pick up on the word “penquear” within the word “penqueadores” – but his only reference for this word is the threat of a spanking, as in, “Te voy a penquear.” [I'm going to spank you] Because he doesn’t know the word out of this context, he didn’t realize it could mean “hit” or “slap.”

    Of course I set him straight. I explain the word “penquear” and I also tell him you can’t judge people based on stereotypes. My son says, “Of course. I already know that!” …and I knew he did, but I just wanted to make sure. Maybe I won’t convince Suegra, but my children will know better.

  2. I have a lot of debates like those with my boyfriend’s stepdad.. who is Guatemalan, and married to a Mexican! His comments use to bother me a lot when I first met him, now I just like to mess with him LOL
    Por otro lado, tu hijo ya casi es un traductor profesional ;) eso de que en el español tengamos tantos significados para una sola palabra es algo que mis estudiantes no pueden entender tan fácilmente. pero creo que es lo que hace nuestra lengua aun más especial!

    • It’s amazing what the kids pick up, right? I’m always so surprised when they manage to pick words apart and figure things out like that.

      Y claro que sí – I love that a word can have so many meanings in Spanish :)

  3. Jajajaja!!! ¡Ay que suegra!

    This was hysterical! You very well described her expressions, bother verbal and non-verbal. My favorite was the …she pipes up with the usual, “Así son los mexicanos, pues.”

  4. Hahahahahahahahaha! That is hilarious!! I can just imagine your son’s thought process and expressions through it all. I love the family debates.

    • His face *was* priceless – that made me laugh more than anything. He was so confused yet accepting of the new information he had learned for a few seconds there LOL.

  5. Tracy,
    This post had me cracking up! I can imagine your son’s thoughts as well….. i bet he did think los mexicanos are weird! LOL
    Y suegra is histerical! I remember the 1st trip my husband and I made to Alabama (which yes, racism still exist there and especially with the elderly…..)

    anyways, my mother was trying to explain to my grandmother that my boyfriend was Mexican. My grandmother just couldn’t grasp it, i guess…. My mother ended up telling her……. LIKE RICKY AND LUCY!!! Her boyfriend is like RICKY! From I love Lucy!

    They ended up loving eachother and well it’s a happy ending!

    Loved ur post and glad you remind ur little ones not to stereo type. I think we’ve all been guilty of it at one point or another!

    Take care!

  6. Hi Tracy,

    For the record, since you’re so big on saying “Salvadoran” instead of “Salvadorean” (which I still believe is the proper way of saying it). The correct way of saying “Mexicans” in Spanish is “Mejicanos” not “Mexicanos.”

    At “Me and the Mexican.” You’re so right about Alabama. My son was born there and still lives there. I hate visiting.

    • Actually Rudy, while RAE (Real Academia Española), says both are acceptable – this dictionary is created by the Spanish. (And just as the English of English people is different from that of Americans, so is the Spanish of Spaniards different from Latin Americans.)

      Mexicans themselves overwhelmingly prefer “mexicanos” with “x” – and some get quite offended or angry when those not from Mexico spell it with a “j” — The reason for this is because the “x” is symbolic of the country’s indigenous roots of which the people are very proud, (the Mexica people are better known as the Aztecs.)

      • That’s quite true. I’ve read similar accounts about the X vs J phenomena that make references to Mexican cultural movements focused on bringing back the use of X in place of the J because of that very point: J is a symbol of colonialism and the X is the more proper spelling.

        Ironically, I came about one of those articles while reading something related to peppers (something I love). In particular, jalapeño peppers, which should actually be Xalapeños because they come from Jalapa, which should actually be Xalapa.

      • Wow, good point Tracy…You’re a good teacher… I learn something new everyday..thanks for the lesson….

        I repeated because I was correcting my statement….I made the “I” a capital letter

  7. One of the nurses at work is married to a Salvadoran (you know I am from El Salvador as well)… she says to us never marry a Salvadoran they are ALL so jealous.

    We start to explain how not ALL. Yet, there is no changing her mind…she says until she meets one that isn’t she will agree.

    My aunt has never hit her children…

    but her favorite thing to tell her college aged son when he tells us about his party school days while away from home…

    Seguile…te voy a dar un penquaso por portarte así!

    • Tell your co-worker I said ‘Hi,’ because I fall into that non-jealous, yet still guanaco crowd. LOL

      I actually find it to be a source of humor. The dude that drives around my neighborhood with the ice cream truck was being flirty with my wife and she came in one day all pissed at him telling me the story thinking I was going to go out and tell the guy something.

      I laughed about it and from time to time will tease her about her ‘boyfriend.’ LOL

    • LOL – Yes, threats of spankings are more abundant than the spankings themselves.

      As for Salvadoran men – mine is the jealous type, but as Chele can attest to – not all are :)

  8. It’s funny as an outsider to get to know another community’s prejudices and stereotypes. I have found that I have been privy to many prejudiced conversations in the various local Muslim communities and especially Indo-Pakistani communities that I have spent time in. (Like a Lebanese will say all Egyptians are X, etc.) You have your head straight and can voice your disapproval of this stereotyping to your suegra, which I think is awesome. You did it respectfully, too. You’d be surprised how many wives-of or married-to’s sort of absorb their husband’s community’s stereotypes of others without thinking about it. That’s kind of a pet peeve of mine, but it is an easy trap to fall into.

    • Fatima – It’s really interesting, isn’t it? That’s sad that so many fall into line without question. Maybe I’m lucky that I’m opinionated when it comes to fairness issues. The divisions between certain Latino groups was really baffling to me for many years but I’ve seen it again and again. If you ask a Salvadoran, for example, why they don’t like Mexicans – they may not even have a good reason, (and vice versa.) – Some do know the history behind why the rift exists, but many don’t.

      And Anglo-Americans can’t pretend they’re free of such prejudice. Though it’s nice to think racism/prejudice doesn’t exist anymore with the election of President Obama – it isn’t true. We’ve come a long way but there are still people who judge based on skin color and other criteria… Look at how Latinos are being treated and the fact that we still don’t have immigration reform due to xenophobia. That speaks volumes… Not to mention how 9/11 caused Muslims to incur a lot of prejudice which still exists to this day with people protesting a mosque being built in New York. The level of ignorance that persists is sad, and that’s an understatement.

      Even some seemingly educated Americans will say with a smile on their face that they hate the French, (again, without even knowing the historical reasons why there is animosity.)

      Anyway, I could never fall into line with having something against Mexicans. First, as you know, you can’t judge an entire group of people in that way. Second, I have a lot of Mexican friends who I love. Third, I loved Mexicans and Mexican culture before I even met my husband and fell in love with Salvadorans too. LOL. I’ve got enough love for them both :)

      • Fatima, no, no – you didn’t imply that at all – I was just speaking on the topic in general. In speaking about Latin American prejudices, I didn’t want to leave it unsaid that gringos have their own issues – lest someone assume that I think gringos are somehow superior – that’s all! (I know you don’t think that way either, of course.)

  9. Pretty funny. Your suegra sounds like an old, bitter woman.

    Sadly, that type of attitude exists in every social group. Kudos to you for ensuring your kids don’t become part of the chain.

    • Chele – I think she does have a lot of bitterness, her life hasn’t been easy, I’ll give her that. At the same time, I know a lot of people who weren’t dealt a great hand in life and came out of it very positive/hopeful/peaceful people. (Suegra’s mother was a very sweet little old lady that I met before she died and her life was VERY difficult.) I wonder what it is that causes one to go one direction and others to turn out the opposite? Is it a conscious choice or are we at the mercy of our own personality? (Maybe a mix of both?)

      I’m naturally a positive person and I like to think I’m rubbing off on her. She probably will never change completely, but she has gotten better over the years. She’s a work in progress, (but aren’t we all?)

      • Same here (positive). I know what you mean.

        Your comments remind me of the story of two brothers that are sitting next to each other at the bar. One is a drunk and out of sorts, while the other is a successful business person and doesn’t drink.

        The bartender asks them both why they made their respective choice about alcohol and both say the same thing: my father was an alcoholic.

        That story always hits home as my dad was an alcoholic and his experience is a large part of the reason why I have never had a drop of alcohol myself.

      • Wow – that is weird that you shared that. (I love that parable, BTW.)

        Carlos’s father was also an alcoholic – to the point where Carlos was sent to retrieve him from bars, and accompanied him to AA meetings when he was still a little kid, and shouldn’t have been exposed to such things.

        Yet it’s that exposure to alcoholism that has kept Carlos far from it. He may have 1 drink each year like at a Christmas gathering – sometimes not even that since he’s usually the one driving. He says that he usually isn’t even tempted or interested in drinking because he knows what it can do to people.

    • Are you sure, Carrie? LOL… If you really want to know, I will try to casually bring it up this weekend and see what she says. We could do a whole series:

      Mexicans – according to Suegra
      Cubans – according to Suegra
      Puerto Ricans – according to Suegra

      …and then of course, “Salvadorans – according to Suegra” would be the only one where she says nice things. jajaja… (actually, she might have a bad thing to say here and there as well even then!)

  10. jajaja!! I love this! My abuelita says similar things about other latinos. She doesn’t mean it maliciously but every now and then we have to get on her about it.

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