Poststructural Taco Breakdown
David Tomas Martinez
Do not ask who I am and do not ask for
me to remain the same: leave it to our
bureaucrats and our police to see that our
papers are in order. At least spare us their morality when we write.
¶Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge
I have a difficult admission. Lil' Wayne is cooler than me.
And against Weezy We's wiser advice, my confidence has a budget. I haven't always been as thrifty with my hubris. For instance, there was a time when I believed I was, for lack of a better word, sagacious. Any room I entered, any text I encountered, or any conversation I crashed, I was going hard. I was putting Baby in the corner. I was going to put a saddle on meaning and ride. This was before school. When I knew everything. But I believe school has dumbed me down. It has tied me to a chair and beat the truth out of me with a hose, thank you Billy Collins. To go to school in the first place, one must have some posture of confidence, and I had my fair share of swagger. It wasn't always like that.
My mother still reminds me how I clenched her work pants on the first day of kindergarten. But I showed a prudent amount of distrust to all those snot machines. How they ran and jumped on each other, only to snore during naptime! And the smells! How could I relate to those little beasts? While I unwrapped my low carb-high protein lunch with pomegranate juice, they devoured white bread with the crust cut off and sucked down high fructose corn syrup concoctions. But as the day progressed to years, I fit in my pod, played my cog, turned my part. Until graduate school, where the teachers tried again to belt out all the learning they spent years holding above my head. No longer was there truth; the canon was smoke without boom. And again I had to learn to fit in, to eat Banh Mi and drink PBR while the grad students come and go speaking of Michelangelo.
With each year in school, my idea of my self became more opaque. I discovered I was othered. My students stared at "all those tattoos." Once while I was teaching, another student, also a minority, opened the door and paused until a strange look formed on his face. He slowly shook his head and turned around.
He asked a student waiting in the hallway, "Is there a teacher in there?"
She replied, "Is a tall, tattooed, Latino man in the front?"
She forgot handsome.
But I can understand the confusion, a baseball hat with the brim flipped up and an airbrushed Charger sweater hardly constitutes normal professor attire. But there lies the rub. Everyday our notions of reality are being brushed up against, being pushed for room, and each day we must be able to shift our perspective and allow for a fuller expression of reality. Roland Barthes believes language defines our reality. I agree with him. I don't know what love is, or freedom, or postmodernism, but I know the best taco truck is on Wayside off the 45. 24 hours wins. And isn't that the type of knowledge we all need, meaning we can hold. Because I can still be confident in the tangible, things that fit in my hand but ooze out and leak understanding. Like when abuelita handed homemade tortillas off the comal, and butter ran down my wrist. I know what it tastes like too. Wink. Wink.