The Mexican from room 502 (on the sixth floor) calls the lobby and informs the manager that “the faucet to the tub is defrosted … Could you send a plumber, please? The manager at the reception takes a long time to deduct that it is room 502 (on the sixth floor) and that what has happened is that “the bathtub faucet broke … and therefore, you have to call a plumber”, no favor, no milk.
The anecdote became a joke or gossip and the story was awarded to Alfonso Reyes a century ago, to José Emilio Pacheco a half ago and the most recent star of Mexican literature to visit Madrid. Whether they are facts or hoaxes, it is about the cyclical confirmation that between Mexico and Spain there is a common language that separates us, such as the Atlantic and as happened according to George Bernard Shaw with the English language, so different from Kentucky to that of Liverpool. The quote is also attributed to Oscar Wilde and although the inhabitants of that language without eñe attest to diametrical differences even in the pronunciation of the same word, there seems to be no mirror in the world as enigmatic and contrasting as the one that extends from the Peninsula to the Pacific.
Let’s start with the “tl” heir to the Nahuatl Mexica (misnamed Aztec) that causes so much trouble for fans of ‘Aleti’ from ‘Madrí’, or let’s talk about the fools who insist on writing “Mexico” with a non-Aragonese jota. I am talking about such contrasting or refracted verb platitudes such as the Michoacan who confuses all Spanish music with flamenco or the Guanajuato countryman who –before the first hit of the hangover in Spain– has the bad idea of asking for “a cock with two eggs “in the hotel bar, without imagining that there are geographies where that combination does not mean sherry with white and yolk as a remedy for staying up late. On the same lines bordering on accidental vulgarity, there is the stupor that can cause the Spaniard who hears that the Mexican National Lottery has managed to accumulate a cock of several million for an upcoming draw, without imagining that it is an accumulated jackpot; and the modest Mexican who feels a tachycardia when he hears that in Spain it is common to put a compact car upside down in tight places. In fact, in Mexico it is not usual
–Although each generation has been dosing the differential– listening to the “teta” or the “mecagoen” so frequent and normalized in Spain for centuries on radio, television or colloquial conversation.
This endearing difference in speech, far from becoming a conflict or irascible redoubt, forms a polychrome mural of abundant diversity and beneficial germination not only of unexpected rhymes, but of authentic cultural twists that enrich the aroma of the bilateral relationship. We are joined by the chalk that is used in Spanish schools, which is nothing more than the chalk of Mexican schools, being “tizotl” a Nahuatl root that crossed the metropolis in the mouth of some repentant conqueror, and chalk the Arabic numeral that came to Mesoamerica in the mouth of some friar; And so it is not the same to feel sorry in Pantitlán than to grieve in Granada, nor shame in Vitoria; It is not the same to yell out of a tantrum in Querétaro than to whistle at the referee in Aranjuez, and what to say about the scream of Atlante’s baton against the grain of the ultras’ songs, both distant identical to Boca’s bar in Argentina.
Precisely from the mouth to the gestures, the transatlantic mirror reflects that a cut of sleeves does not say anything in Guadalajara, Jalisco, just as the chilango of the old DF who paints a little snail does not receive any answer if he does it in Valladolid or Zaragoza. Well, it is not the same – even if they look alike – those who mess with hosts with those who hold on to shit and it is striking that in the Anahuac valley they lie so much to their mother, while when crossing the veto-vetonic carpeto they take a shit in his father. And that Andalusian lightness with which a compliment can be thrown at Macarena as the daughter of the great whore deserves a long essay in the face of the modest and ultra-Orthodox modesty of the indigenous converts, unable to allude to the gods. And just as an abysmal tectonic fault of mental and cultural differences between Spain and Mexico opens, an immense mountain of shared sayings, cloned greguerías and more or less transatlantic albures rises: I am talking about the jokes that in the Peninsula denounce those of Lepe , which are the same jokes that are told in Chilangolandia against the gachupines; and the sayings that crossed in both directions in the five centuries that we have been trying to get to know each other in a mestizaje like a mother, which covers not only the historical and cultural, but also the biological-existential.
Not long ago, the fact of having to read added subtitles in the Mexican film ‘Roma’, by Alfonso Cuarón, which was screened in Spain, caused a certain tricolor furor –some people tore their clothes–. Granted, it is evident that subtitles are needed even in Toluca and Tacubaya for the unattainable dialogues in Mixtec language used by actresses who play the role of servants; But it seemed exaggerated that in Móstoles or Bilbao they had to resort to subtitling the dialogues of the other actors who spoke Spanish! For this reason, the notorious dubbing propensity of Hispanic cinema is strikingly striking, contrary to the already entrenched and habitual resource of subtitles in Mexico, as if all this had to do with literacy or reading rates.
Just as the master’s degree seems to differ from the master’s degree, the parking in Segovia seems to be different from a parking lot in Celaya; And just as the one who guacha in Spanglish from pocho come in cholo in the heart of East LA as a Mexican territory, in the same way the cheli de chulapos and chulaponas and the badass slang of the times of the movida seemed untranslatable. Although the man who eats the jar is the twin of the asshole who is sick with the melon, although the bofia is the strip and the chocolate is equivalent to a churro (which seems like a mess for breakfast), we already know not a few chichimecas the mess we can make in any tavern by insisting on having a whiskey with Tehuacán, or else the shameful situation of asking a colleague from the Complutense if she has a Durex in her purse (which she identifies as a condom), when in truth we only wanted a little strip adhesive.
We speak the same language and different languages, or it is the same language that has been split into two or more languages, and the kaleidoscope unfolds even in the ethereal. For example, in the simple eagerness to tell the time it is common in Spain that 2:50 is lied as “three minus ten”, puzzling the Mexican who usually says “ten to three”, perhaps on the grounds that they do not You can take for granted the third hour of a day or noon if by chance an earthquake falls on us that stops the time at 2:59; And all this in an esoteric way perhaps explains that the Madrid Metro circulates in reverse than the orange underground snake of Mexico, where the wagons enter the station from the left side of the one that stands on the platform, causing that when traveling -of here and there and vice versa– Mexicans and Spaniards stand on the edge of the rails as foreign visitors to London, where one has to be alive with the changed tracks. And now that we are here: what can you tell me about the phlegmatic advertisement for “Mind the gap” that in Mexico was translated as “Eye” and that in Madrid is lengthened baroquely into “Metro de Madrid: next curved station. Please be careful so as not to put your foot between the car and the platform “?
The fact that the verb chingar is so versatile in Mexico notably disrupts the only double meaning that is conferred on it in Spain, and makes it so striking that many ranchers say “ansina” and “vuesa mercé” as if Don Quixote lived in Cholula or Chapala . Or that the concierge advises to go up, go inside and then go down and go outside should not be a pretext to establish ourselves as qualifying censors of the Unreal Academy of Language, but to become beneficiaries of a dynamic dictionary that unfolds continuously with the words in use, the borrowed pronouns and the inevitable cantinflismo (or pure Ramonian Quevedismo?).
We have to read each other forever and ever with the shared typography where neither the desire nor the amazement of rediscovering verbs and nouns that we thought we had memorized will be lacking. We have to listen to each other in boleros or rancheras that mix with all the flamenco styles and languid songs of yesteryear in the inexhaustible and generous music that makes us dance even in speech and we have to see ourselves forever in the mirror, which reflects and refracts, of millions of shared surnames and so many intact roots, in similar landscapes and cloned customs. Back and forth, Spain and Mexico in two exponential and polychrome voices that confirm that Comala or Macondo are also in La Mancha and that Sancho and Don Alonso are friends –among them and with everyone.