Cinco de Mayo is here, and I have one simple question for the Anglos out there: What does this day signify? I mean, what historical event does it commemorate besides the advent of the two-for-one margarita special?
I do not mean this to be bitchy or accusatory. I may be playing a subtle game of racial gotcha, it’s true, but what’s wrong with that?
To be fair, I myself never heard of Cinco de Mayo until I was a teenager, which was perhaps a decade before mainstream America started celebrating diversity in sloppy, albeit sincere fashion. This eagerness to let other ethnic groups know that they are almost, very nearly American has lead to people wishing me a “Happy Independence Day” months before July 4. It’s sort of like those school holiday programs, where the Jewish kids get one verse of “The Dreidel Song” in the midst of nineteen Christmas carols.
Again, I appreciate the effort. But for starters, I am not Mexican (Cinco de Mayo is, strictly speaking, only relevant to Mexico). Second, May 5 is not Mexican Independence Day (that would be September 16). And lastly, one listen to my flat, Midwestern accent should let you know that any Latin American holiday has about as much significance to my life as Oktoberfest does to a sixth-generation descendent of German immigrants… actually, maybe even less, because Oktoberfest features beer, which is most tasty.
My chief memory of Cinco de Mayo, in fact, is from 1998, when a ditzy California blonde broadsided my brand-new car. I don’t know why I continue to associate the day with this event, but now it is stuck in my head… Damn.
In any case, Cinco de Mayo will not find me marking the day in any special manner, nor using it to justify guzzling egregious amounts of alcohol. It’s just another evening to me, thank you very much.
But I do not want to leave you without concrete information (news you can use, as it were) in this post, particularly if it will help you break the ice with that cute girl at the end of the bar. So here are some facts about the significance of Cinco de Mayo, which you can mention tonight in between ordering rounds of tequila for that special someone. You can thank me later.