Sunday, October 6, 2013

I No Longer Fear Mariachi Bands

I recently visited a Mexican restaurant called Jalapeno Loco near the Milwaukee airport. To my horror, it was mariachi night. I wouldn't say I have a Mariachi phobia, but they make me awfully uncomfortable. I take pride in my diverse taste in music. I like rock, indie, pop, folk, country. But Mariachi? No gracias! I tried calm my nerves and shouted to my coworker, "Are they too loud, or am I too old." Then, "I really just want them to stop." The next thing I knew, the happy musicians finished their unusual rendition of Roll Out the Barrel (only in Milwaukee) at the table next to us. And there they were, surrounding our little table for two, looking at us expectedly.

Flashback to my last real-life experience with a mariachi band. It was during my college years on a family trip to Tijuana. We were eating at a touristy restaurant with an authentic Mariachi band doing their thing. I felt like the best way to deal with them was to ignore them. My dad enthusiastically waved them over. And then looked to me for a song choice because I had studied Spanish. I froze and couldn't think of anything. It was terribly awkward, and I've avoided Mariachis ever since that day.

But on this more recent experience in Milwaukee, my manners proved to be stronger than my distaste in Mariachi. Without thinking, I spoke to them in Spanish. I don't usually use Spanish, even when I know I'm talking to a Spanish speaker. For some reason I feel like it is condescending or that it looks like I'm trying to show off. I was nervous and it accidentally came out like a side effect of my fear. Well, it turned out that they were delighted to hear a gringa like me speak their language. We instantly bonded! 

Like a horrid moment from my past, the band asked what we wanted to hear. I said I actually liked their rendition of Roll Out the Barrel that they had just finished. I could see them roll their eyes at one another. We settled on a Chilean folk song that was fun and not at all awkward. I'd actually like to hear them again sometime!

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