Ask a Mexican!

Dear Mexican: Tell us about the origin of the grito. No, not the one done in September to celebrate independence, but the one belted out during passionate rancheras like Chente's "Volver, Volver." Where did they start? What's their purpose? A good grito is a way to get a lot of emotion of your chest, but I've always wondered ¿Esto quién se lo inventó?

—El Gallo Gritón

I think that I've identified the Mexican "rallying cry," if you will, but I need your confirmation. Why is it that groups of Mexican men seem to often yell out this high pitched "Aye aye aye!" business as some sort of battle cry or mating call? My brother was an electrician and worked on a lot of construction sites with Mexican men and he also now has picked up this "Aye aye aye!" Furthermore, a friend of mine hears this early in the morning outside her condo while they are working on her remodel. Could it be a wake-up call, perchance?

—Whitey Wishing for My Own Call

Dear Pocho and Gabacho: Every male culture needs a battle cry, and our grito has been a Mexican's best aural artillery for hundreds of years. But unlike the cowboy "Yee-haw!" or Indian "Hoka Hey!" ours can slow down to express sorrow (The "Ay yai yai yai" chorus of "Cielito Lindo"), speed up to show happiness (every drunk primo), extend for a minute to exude machismo, or go off in staccato bursts of approval. Its origin? DEEZ NUTZ. Seriously: The only academic study I tracked down on the subject is "El Grito Mexicano in Texas-Mexican Culture," an unpublished paper written by esteemed Notre Dame professor Jose E. Limón that the good profe currently can't locate. And while I'm sure it's great, its findings won't matter: whether you want to trace it back to the Mexica or the Moors, the grito is an expression of DEEZ NUTZ—that is to say, huevos. Can women do it, too? Of course—but only DEEZ NUTZ could think of a shout so, well, ballsy.

Ask the Mexican at be his fan on Facebook. Follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Comments (0)

Add a comment

Add a Comment