When I’m back in the USA and people find out I live in Mexico, they always ask the same three questions. Is it safe? What do you do for healthcare? And what’s on TV? Because I’m not sure how much time I have left in life, based on my answers to the first two questions, I think it’s a good idea to prioritize and tackle the most important question first: namely, our TV viewing options.
We have plenty. Our standard cable package includes more than 80 channels, and, as in the USA, most of those channels are filled with spouses screaming at each other, boring community board meetings, fake reality shows, inane comedies targeted at prepubescent children, and the same sexy woman who appears just about everywhere in the world, wearing a tiny bikini and showing viewers how to tighten their abs. I suspect she’s been air-brushed.
Much like how they keep old Detroit beater cars from the 50s and 60s running, Mexico is also keeping old USA television shows alive and well. My favorite is the “Bonanza” channel that runs the old Western show starring Ben Cartwright and sons around the clock—and in Spanish. Have you ever gotten a good look at those three boys? Adam, Hoss, Little Joe? They don’t look anything like their father. So I’m guessing there once was a ranch hand named Very Big Joe who was pretty handy with a lasso and branding iron.
Curiosity got the better of me one afternoon, and I did a little research and learned that the three boys all had different mothers. By the time the series began, all those moms had died. Hmm. Makes you wonder what — or who — is buried on “The Ponderosa” besides fir trees.
Watching shows in Spanish with English subtitles—or English with Spanish subtitles—is an excellent way to improve one’s foreign language skills. But it has its limits. In an English-speaking show, for example, when a character, usually male and usually in a violent scene, wildly drops the F-bomb as if he were carpet bombing a jungle, the polite Spanish subtitle editor shakes its head in dismay and merely writes “malediction.” Or, in other words, “bad word.”
I love that about Mexico, the politeness and awareness of others in the room. Unfortunately, if you find yourself in a heated argument in Spanish down here, I doubt shouting malediction at your opponent will get you anywhere. I’m not willing to test my theory, so I merely shrug and say, “No comprende.”