Last weekend we gathered our chichares (junk) together and headed to Cerano to see what we could sell for cash. (See Failing at your own Business–Tianguis) The morning was busy but uneventful. We sold things right off the bat and then sold some more. Buyers were typically male and campesinos (country folk). We sold enough for us to get some Cerano specialty carnitas de res (fried cow parts) and ice cream. My husband, as always, was in charge of any and all business, therefore my son and I had some free time on our hands. We decided to people watch.
Every town has its “circuit” where the young girls and boys circle around and observe, talk to or hook up with members of the opposite sex. In Cerano, Sunday afternoons in the tianguis (flea market) is the place to be. Things really didn’t get interesting until after mass, around 12 pm. Then the young people began to peacock around.
My son and I were most interested in what makes a muchacho or muchacha (young fellow or lady) attractive and the subsequent “hooking up” stage. We began by observing the groups of boys. They circled in groups anywhere from 2 to 6 in a group. Each group had its own identity. There seemed to be 3 main styles. There were the pseudo-skaters (pseudo in the sense that they did not carry skateboards) in t-shirts and tight colored jeans with even more colorful shoes. Then there were the vaqueros (cowboys) with their checked shirts, jeans, boots and belt buckles. And finally, there were the bad boy gangsta-wanna-bes with their t-shirts, baggy pants, and sparkly gun/marijuana/skull belt buckles, maybe even an earring or two.
We noticed that girls arrived and made the circuit in groups of two, sometimes three. Some girl packs came with their little ones wrapped in rebozos. (See Babywearing in Mexico). Others had toddlers that trailed behind. Some came with their mothers or grandmothers. A few came alone and met up with friends as they circled. All the young ladies were dressed to the hilt.
The main objective is to get the attention of the opposite sex, whether through ostentatious dress or eye contact. Some efforts to get the girls’ attentions were complete and utter failures. Hooting and hollering made the girls speed up or take a sudden left turn into oblivion. Although most already were acquainted, sometimes we witnessed formal presentations by an intermediate after liberal eyeballing from both parties. These introductions allowed the formerly group of 2 to become 3 and the circuit walk continued.
The commitment level of the relationship was easy to read. Single males were still in their wolf packs. The newly hooked up circled in groups of 2 or three (the potential couple and chaperone female friend). Those in the official couplehood stage walked in the customary Cerano way–the female was slightly ahead of the male who had his hand on her shoulder “guiding” her along.
Young couples with babies have a modified couple walk. The woman holds the hands of toddlers, and more often than not, the male carries the infants. This allows the woman to have her hands free for shopping, after all, they were at the tianguis (flea market) and certain things need to be bought. Women with children who had no man, perhaps he was in el norte (the US) or the relationship had ended, carried their own children and were often with another female friend in the same position, or more rarely with their mothers. These women, or young ladies, were either “single” or “in a relationship” which could be determined by how much skin was exposed. The committed had far less tata display than the single ladies.
Men married for an extended period of time arrived as lone wolves, meeting up in the jardin (central park) with other lone wolves after making the circuit and seeing what there was to see. Women of the same age also arrived alone but didn’t typically linger after making necessary purchases.
What an educational day! In the early afternoon, we called it quits, gathered up what remained of our crap for sale and headed home.