My father is a traditional Latino man. Macho. Machista. Manly. And all other the ‘m’ words that represent ‘da maaan.’
Although Papi wasn’t around for most of my childhood, he strides into a room as if he were Father of the Year. And talks that talk. As if he deserves to be treated like ‘da maaan.’
Maybe it’s cultural. Or maybe it’s partly Mami’s fault. Every day (or when he showed up and they weren’t arguing) she brought Papi his dinner. If she forgot his fork or didn’t bring in a glass of water or a Heineken for him, she’d go to the kitchen and bring it to him – even after she sat down with her plate of food.
I didn’t think there was anything wrong with this then. Now, I see how unfair this is. I see that my mother was putting herself second almost always.
I also see that Mami did the best she could and that she was also playing a role that she learned to play. That’s who she was supposed to be as a woman.
However, it wasn’t all bad. Having a man like my father by her side, who talks and walks like ‘da maaan’, was comforting. A traditional Latino man is often protective and takes care of his mujer. He opens doors, walks on the outside of the street when walking with his lady, and pays for most bills, if not all. He is also a bit jealous, which to some women, feels good.
I can admit that I miss that aspect of being with a traditional Latino man. Boo is pretty progressive, and so he isn’t very jealous. Regarding finances and gender roles, he may not expect me to cook dinner or bring him his plate at every meal, but he does expect me to contribute and be an equal financial partner. I have to admit, that kind of sucks sometimes.
But, what sucks more? What is best: a traditional Latino man or a progressive one? The jury is still out on that, ‘maaan.’