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Origins of the grito 

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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 off your chest, but I've always wondered ¿esto quién se lo inventó?

— El Gallo Gritón

Dear Mexican: 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 Seriously: The only academic study I tracked down on the subject is "El Grito Mexicano in Texas-Mexican Culture," an unpublished paper written by esteemed Notre Dame professor Jose E. Limón that the good profe currently can't locate.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.

Dear Mexican: I'm an Asian — a chino, to be more exact. I love Mexican culture and I adore Mexican women, be they today's moms or the Jesusitas of the Revolution. To make myself closer to the Mexican community, I've tried everything. I visited Mexico, learned some Mexican Spanish, bought two straw sombreros, made two to three Mexican amigas who are either married or too young, danced baile folklorico in front of a large audience, and even sang "México Lindo y Querido" at a Chinese-restaurant karaoke to my Chinese colleagues. Yet, despite all my efforts, the most I've got from Mexican mujeres is a nice smile and nada más. Mexican mujeres simply puzzle me. I don't know what they want in a man and how I can get them interested in a chino of cinquenta y tres. I guess maybe my grays shut them down. Or they prefer hombres of their own raza? What do you suggest? The only thing I can think of that I have not done is to bring a mariachi to the window of a mujer of my corazón. Should I do that? Will I be arrested by police if I do that? Or will some jealous Mexican men come to chase me off with pistols?

— Ching-Chong Charlie

Dear Chinito: You're doing it all wrong. Mujeres don't care about how Mexican a non-Mexican guy is when they come a'courtin'; they care about romance. That said, you're on the right path with a serenata. Any woman who looks down on an hombre doing that has a heart colder than Trump's — but is still hella smarter.

Ask the Mexican at themexican@askamexican.net. Be his fan on Facebook. Follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano! If you're puzzled by some of the Mexican's lingo, head to the ¡Ask a Mexican! Glossary at bit.ly/1judthF. We've also found culturally astute definitions in the Urban Dictionary, urbandictionary.com.

  • Our grito has been a Mexican's best aural artillery for hundreds of years.

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