Lost in Translation

When the movie Wedding Crashers came out, I started receiving a lot of wedding invitations. Except for CD-release parties, weddings are the most common parties I'm invited to. I pick a few each year to attend. When I got a call from a young Latina named Wendy, I decided to cruise up to Escondido for her older brother's wedding. I used Map Quest to find the location, but it gave me the wrong directions. (This is only the second time that's happened, so I didn't get too upset.) I went the wrong way down Ninth Avenue and called Wendy to bail me out.

They live in a Latino neighborhood, and it was interesting to see their neighbors come over to the wedding on their front lawn. It may not have been as elaborate as some weddings, but you could tell the family put a lot of work into making the place look its best. I could see a broken-down shack in the back yard that had been covered with a white cloth. There were several tables set up in the front yard with white tablecloths and flowers. I often see people getting married at home in movies and on TV, but I had never been to a wedding at someone's house.

Wendy greeted me at the gate of her mother's home. Wendy and her boyfriend live in Mexico and work at a hospital in Chula Vista. The first thing she said to me was, "You like Asian women, don't you?" I said, "Why? Do you have some?" She laughed. "You say that a lot in your stories." For the life of me, I can't remember writing that. I said, "I may have described somebody as being Asian and being cute, but that doesn't mean I prefer Asian women over any other types. If it makes you feel better, though, I'll refer to you as a cute, petite Latina."

A car honked as it drove by, and Wendy said, "That's customary when a wedding is going on." She described for me the traditions of a Mexican wedding.

I asked how the couple met, and Wendy told me, "She would catch the bus for school, and he watched her walk by." Her mom came over and there was an awkward silence. I said, "How did you first meet your mother?" She smiled and said, "It was a long time ago. In the womb."

I asked her boyfriend if being at a wedding was uncomfortable, if he was feeling the pressure to propose. He smiled. "I've been asked that five times today!"

The DJ played a variety of mariachi and Spanish-style music. Everyone was speaking Spanish, too. When someone in front of us yelled, "Beso," Wendy leaned toward me and said, "That means 'kiss.'" I replied, "I thought it meant 'bathroom.' But I did get a C in Spanish." Wendy was 19 years old, so I asked about her high school. "I went to school in San Ysidro. It was real ghetto there. One of the security guards was sleeping with a student. It was crazy."

There were little boys who looked to be about five years old, and though they were dressed up in suits, they were playful. I was surprised they weren't pulling at their ties and acting uncomfortable. A little girl of about eight kept ducking the frame of my camera as I took photos.

The ceremony was in Spanish. I noticed a guy wearing a sweat suit sitting in the front. I found it odd that the children were dressed up more than some of the adults.

When Wendy's mom said, "Mi casa, su casa," Wendy was going to translate for me. I said, "I know what that means." I was too embarrassed to tell her that I learned it from Pulp Fiction .

I grabbed a Coke and sat down to eat. A few older guys in cowboy gear offered me "cerveza."

I love Mexican food, but the food there was different than anything I'd eaten before. They served frijoles puercos, barbacoa, and sopa fria . A relative of the groom owns a catering service and made all the food. I asked where in Mexico they were from and was told Culiacán, Sinaloa, 22 hours south of the border.

One guy at my table told me that his family raised a pig, which they eventually ate. A young guy at our table complained that he couldn't have a beer. I thought it was because he wasn't 21, but Wendy said, "Not with your medication." I asked her what she meant. "When he was eight, he was misdiagnosed and given steroid shots. His heart got three times as big. They brought him up to UCLA and gave him a heart transplant."

Everyone at the table cleaned their plates, except for the macaroni salad. I thought that was weird because it was the first time I had macaroni salad that I liked.

The groom was bugging Wendy for safety pins, and when she agreed to go out and get some, I offered to walk her to the market. She took off her high heels and her boyfriend lit a cigarette. I mentioned to the young couple that a guy at the wedding reminded me of Burt Reynolds. They asked who that was. I said, "Wow, I must be old." Then I thought, He's still making movies! I rattled off a few that he's been in over the past few years, but to no avail. I had a flashback of when, as kids, my brother and I wanted to watch Friday the 13th on HBO, and my stepdad tried talking to us about old horror movies with Lon Chaney and Bela Lugosi.

The market made me feel as if I was in Mexico. Not because I was the only Caucasian in the place, but the items stocked on the shelves, the people working there... the whole vibe of the market felt like Mexico.

Wendy told me about her hometown and how they eat a lot of seafood there. She then told me about the tradition of the first dance and said, "I'm not sure if it's a waltz. I think it is, but I'm not positive."

She says her mom will love her new daughter-in-law.

"Women raised in Mexico...are different than the women raised here. She will know how to cook and clean. We learn that at an early age in Mexico. It's not like that with girls here."

I asked them about crossing the border, and Wendy's boyfriend said, "Yeah, that can be tough. It usually takes an hour or an hour and a half at the border. But we can afford a nicer place in Mexico."

Crash your party? Call 619-235-3000 x421 and leave an invitation for Josh Board.

Share / Tools

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • AddThis
  • Email

More from SDReader


Log in to comment

Skip Ad