Sunday, June 20, 2010




: a close friend : buddy

COMPADRE is one of those words Americans have culturally appropriated to make themselves sound more casually ethnic. When someone says something like: No big deal, COMPADRE, it usually means, I'm just pretending to sound Mexican and totally laid back. I mean, this is okay; I don't really consider this appropriation offensive or degrading. It's actually kind of flattering in a way—Americans being envious of the the sort of cultural bonds that get lost in translation.

This idea also appears in Italian-speak in the form of paesan. Paesan has a similar ring of brotherly love—the sense that two paesans come from a similar place/culture/background. When I began to get interested in my Italian heritage, I started to feel this bond between myself and other Italians, as though we need to stick together because we share something that cannot be shared with someone who is say, anything but Italian. To be truthful, I often don't feel like I have much in common with many Italian-Americans, save for olive skin and dynamic facial profiles. Or at least, not much more than I have in common with anyone else, really. But I still sort of feel that bond, that indefinable paesan connection somehow linking us.

Since I moved to the west coast, I notice the paesan bond with east-coasters in a more general and less Italian sense. When I meet someone who is also from the northeast, I feel an immediate connection, the comfort of familiarity in a strange land. I have built friendships out here based solely on a shared geographical birthplace—people I may never have looked at when I lived in the northeast, now COMPADRES because we have both endured and escaped the same place.

Immigrants within our own country, I suppose.

1 comment:

  1. Dear fellow immigrant,
    I'm very glad to be one of your compadres.