I've found this most common in first-generation Americans. We don't have nearly as deep a connection to our heritage as our parents. For some, that translates to, say, not having a firm grasp on their family's personal history. For others, it feels like being a dog among aliens. You'll have some frame of reference for hand gestures and certain emphatically pronounced curse words, but for the most part, you have an easier time understanding the flailing gibberish spoken by Sims than you do your own aunts and uncles.
They Test Your Tolerance For The Rituals Of Less Popular Religions
The trade-off of experiencing the beauty of another nation or race's culture in your own backyard is that sometimes you have to drive over dead chickens that've been stuffed into garbage bags and thrown by train tracks.
With diverse populations come their religious beliefs, as well as a test of your tolerance of their rituals. In Miami, that means Santeria and all of its gory idiosyncrasies. I've only ever known one practitioner. When Mormons would knock on his door to spread the good word, he'd speak in tongues wearing all of his Santeria paraphernalia to scare them off. This cartoonish display of a religion amounts to exactly half of everything I know about Santeria. The other half is stuff like dead chickens by train tracks, which I think are meant as an offering to some kind of transportation deity. Or maybe I'm wrong and it's just a hardcore way to tenderize chicken. I also know this gross part of it pretty well:
Living in a melting pot city loaded with diversity means that sometimes well-meaning folks will split open a cow's tongue and then nail it to a tree near your home. When I first saw that, I checked my immediate surroundings for any additional sign of a murderer watching me from afar before disappearing as a bus passed. I don't know what this ritual is about, but if this LA Times article from 1997 has it right, publicly displaying a rancid cow's tongue that's been decorated with people's names offers protection from gossip. You can just not be an asshole, but I guess this works too. As you can see, there were no names displayed on my cow tongue, but I think they were sewn inside, as this practitioner's unique twist on scaring the shit out of jogging suburbanites.
The ritualistic display of slaughtered animals and their parts is so mundane for me that I hesitated to include it in this column for fear it would bore you. I don't spot five cow tongues and a few dead chickens every time I leave the house, but it's happened enough that my response never goes beyond rolling my eyes, like an enormous cow tongue nailed into a tree is just another prank from those damn kids up the street. They're a nuisance, but God love 'em, they're just kids being kids.
All the cow tongues Luis is nailing around his computer will protect him from your negative comments. In the meantime, you can find him on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.
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