Mario Eugene Shell (The Person I Almost Was): If I’m Both Hispanic and White, Which Box Do I Check in Those Surveys?

If only I looked more ethnic.


It’s hard to fathom now, but the entire time my mom knew she was pregnant with me (from October 1980 to April 1981) her “boy name” for me was Mario Eugene Shell.  But of course, my name is instead Nicholas Shane Shell.  Why?  I “didn’t look like a Mario”.  In other words, I was too white.

In essence, I am a mixed race- technically only half white.  One of the main ways I determine whether or not a person is “white” (other than their skin color) is by looking at their last name- if it ends in a vowel, they are probably not white.  My mom’s maiden name was Metallo (Italian) and her mother’s maiden name was Mendez (it doesn’t end in a vowel but it’s common knowledge that Mexicans are not “white”- especially not the ones in my family- they have darker skin).

My dad (a Southern boy of English, German, Cherokee Indian, and distant Greek traces) had married this exotic black haired woman from the North (Buffalo, NY).  It was assumed that their child would take after the more ethnic features, like mocha skin and black curly hair.  But on April 20, 1981 at 8:37 PM, both my parents were amazed to hold a seemingly All-American baby.

They looked at each other, then my mom said to my dad, “He’s not a Mario.  We need a new name.”  A few hours later, before midnight, still on the day I was born, I was named Nicholas (a Greek name that is a popular Italian male name).  My middle name is Shane, which is a form of Sean, which is a form of the Hebrew (Jewish) name, John.  (Shane was considered for my first name but “Shane Shell” really doesn’t work.)

And that’s how I got my name- a quickly formed “plan B”.  To imagine, if I looked more Mexican (like my sister, though she’s often mistaken for Hawaiian) or even a dark-skinned Italian, I would have been Mario Eugene.  (My dad’s middle name is Eugene.)  That’s means that growing up, everyone at school would have called me Super Mario and constantly made references to video game series.  But I don’t think it would have been all that different from my actual childhood, where everyone sang “Nick-nick-nick-nick-nick-nick-nick-nick, Nickelodeon!” to me.  And some people still do… Aunt Rosa!

Escape (The Pina Colada Song) from a Logical Perspective, Finally

It’s time to literally think through the lyrics of the Rupert Holmes’ 1979-1980 hit, “Escape”.  A song that many of us thought was called “If You Like Pina Coladas” and was performed by Jimmy Buffett.

Many people in the history of modern civilization have claimed there are two kinds of people in the world. But through much research and toil on my part, I have learned truly what the defining line of what these two kinds are. An overwhelming number believe it is whether or not you like Pina Coladas. Those people are not looking at the big picture. They are only looking at the “here and now”, what is sweet, and smooth, and relaxing- exotic, even.

There are also those believe it is whether or not you like getting caught in the rain. They are able to go through the rest of the day with wet socks and not be bothered by it. Those are the free spirited who are always able to take moldy lemons and make fresh lemonade. That is a good thing, but is it consistent?

Then are those who believe it all comes down whether or not you are into yoga. It’s just that it seems a little judgmental “to put someone in a box” because they may or may not be into a trendy form of mental, physical, and spiritual exercise. I think it’s a given that some people are just better cut out for Pilates or Tai-Bo.

Rupert Holmes

Perhaps the most controversial outlook is the one that says it depends on whether or not you have half a brain. I would have to think that anyone who can read this has a half a brain. But is that the true question? Most scientists say we only use 10% of our brain. And that even geniuses only use 20%. So is it a matter of how much a brain you have, or how much of it that you use? It seems if you have half a brain but use 100% of it, then you’re much better off them someone who has a whole brain and uses 10%. The whole “half a brain/whole brain” is simply a theory with too many holes in it.

So what is the answer? There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who like making love at midnight in the dunes of the cape, and those who do not. No questions asked. I mean, you’ve seen Napoleon Dynamite and you think of the scene where his grandma goes four-wheeling in the dunes of Idaho and breaks her coccyx. But those dunes are nowhere near a cape. Nevermind that you don’t exactly know what a cape is. It obviously has something to do when some sort of a peninsula type of land mass. It’s always near an ocean.

Except for Cape Girardeau, Missouri. It’s on the border of Illinois and the Mississippi River. Nevermind that not only do you have to find a dune, that happens to be near a cape, but that it also has to be at midnight. You have to get past that.

Come to terms with whether or not you’ve made love so many times at midnight in the dunes of the cape that now you can officially say you like to do that. An even bigger question arises with Cape San Blas, FL, which is located directly on the Central Time/Eastern Time border. Depending on exactly which side of the time zone you are on, it could be either 11:00 PM, 12:00 AM, or 1:00 AM. And what if one lover is on the Eastern Time Zone side but the other is on Central, then you’ve really got a problem.

Just don’t think about how dangerous it could possibly be to be in a vulnerable position outside at night in some sort of cave near sand. Don’t think about wild coyotes, jellyfish, or pirates. If and when you do figure that out, then and only then, you’ll know which kind of person you are.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escape_(Rupert_Holmes_song)

And one more thing… Now that you’ve read my take on pina coladas, why not read my perspective on being a dad?  That’s right- parenting from a dad’s point of view.  I have been documenting my thoughts as a dad since the week we found out my wife was pregnant.  I formally invite you now to read my “dad blog” by clicking on the link below:

dad from day one

 

Being Exotic Can Actually Mean Looking Generically Foreign

“Since many white people look alike, they are desperate to find ways to have a distinctive look.” -Stuff White People Like, by Christian Lander


What is something that’s exotic?  To me it evidently always translated as “Hawaiian” or “Asian” or “tropical”.  But when I predictably spent two summers teaching English in Thailand in 2002 and 2003 as Christian Lander, author of Stuff White People Like, said I would (“This is when they venture to Thailand… Some do it to one-up the white people who only go to Europe,” and “White men love Asian women so much that they will go to extremes… like teaching English in Asia…”), I learned pretty quickly that over there, I was the magical, exotic one.

However, I was constantly confused with the few other “white people” in the province I worked in; more than several times being confused with a guy about three inches shorter than me who had blonde hair and blue eyes (and was Canadian).

So the irony is that while my “big nose that comes out of your face” (as some of my Thai students informed me of), “light colored hair” (which is actually dark brown), “white skin”, and “hairy body” (I guess I can’t argue about those last two) were different to the Thai people, I ultimately looked like every other white guy in the world.  Despite the exciting mysteriousness, being exotic also means looking generically foreign.

Written as a guide to help non-Caucasian people to understand "white culture".

And despite the various shades of eye colors and hair colors that Caucasians can have, we are ultimately the minority skin color of the world.  On a global scale, “white people” are the minority; and to the majorities, we evidently all blend together, looking alike.

We most easily identify the physical differences of the people of our own race, whatever it is, since that’s the group of people we are most familiar with.  In the end, “exotic” becomes a pretty relative word.

http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/