The people in this country need to learn English. There are 2,000 of us living here, and now our kids are coming to visit. What do they think our kids speak?
—Red-haired Woman from Florida
Peace and joy, Camper.
Lately, Your Uncle Jerry has been getting questions from young persons who expect to travel in Latin America.
Latin America, Camper, means any country beyond The Wall, which is where they should stay. Let’s don’t forget that without a wall, we don’t have a country, and they’re not part of our country. Oh, they want to be, but their resumé doesn't meet the standard set by our president, so: No. That’s why they’re called foreigners.
Dear Uncle Jerry, writes one young fellow. My parents are dragging my sister and me to Cancun. But I learned from Coach Largo that Mexico is crawling with kidnappers and Latin pop singers, and besides, we don’t want to learn Spanish. How can we change their minds?
First of all, dude, you’ve seen Coach Largo, but have you seen Shakira? Leslie Grace? La India? Yes, I know India is old enough to be your Aunt Roberta, but I’m sure you know the meaning of the word cougar. Stop. Just open YouTube, find her song "Seduceme" or “Ese Hombre”, tie yourself down, and press play with your nose. You’ll thank me later.
Secondly, nobody wants to learn a new language, and that right there is the best reason to do it. It’s anti-cred. Surprised? Camper, Your Uncle Jerry is gangster as hell. Trust me, learning a language is total contrarian. Learn it, withhold it. You got nothing to prove, yet you accrue tremendous cool. Yes, like Uncle Jerry himself.
Also hey, for your sister: Amiga, come here. You think you know how to swear, but you got nothing until you can swear in a second language. You see your gang at school. “Sup girl,” they say. You shrug, “Jodida pero contenta.” Boom. Simple as that.
Or! Or: You lean over to the new girl from The Dominican Republic and you murmur “Ese hombre que tu ves ahi? Solo sabe hacer sufrir.” She looks at your ex-boyfriend with one eyebrow raised and one hand seeking your arm. . . . You walk away together. I’m just saying, OMG girl. Don’t fight the power.
But yes, okay. You don't want to learn Spanish, and you can't change your parents’ minds. At least, you can make your own life easier as you travel Beyond The Wall. What you need is Your Uncle Jerry’s Rules of Gringo-tude.
Don't worry about language; everyone in the world speaks English.
But learn three or four phrases in Spanish, just to be polite. You can pronounce them as if they were English words; I mean, come on, you know how to say stuff.
Take selfies constantly, especially at scenic overlooks, sacred sites, archaeological sites, in front of works of indigenous art. Make comical faces.
Also take shots of adorable poor people going about . . . whatever it is poor people do.
Unctuously greet everyone you see, as if you’ve just bought the country and you’re hoping they have a place to go. Bway-Nose Dios. Nod and smile with all your teeth.
When shaking hands, use the bone-crushing MBA grip, and yank your opponent toward you.
Show the flag. Always wear at least one article of clothing with the US flag designed into it. Hat, t-shirt, cargo shorts, whatever. Bikini bottoms. Everyone loves America. (In the Latino world, be sure to call it America.)
If one of the hotel staff actually doesn't have English, just speak louder and break it down for them. Like, “No shower curtain! Need shower curtain! In room!” Use big gestures to pantomime taking a shower.
When you see another gringo, hail them and wave as if you knew them in grade school.
As often as possible, throw up your hands and repeat the following words: “OMG, I can’t believe they don’t have . . .”
Just follow these commonsense practices, and you’ll have no more worries about Latinoamerica than El Presidente 45 does. You’re welcome.
Joy and Peace.