They Call Me Maria Blanca: The Real Story

Mexican laundromats – las lavanderias – are the bomb. Trust me. But before I go on, haven’t I proven time and time again that I can be trusted?

You walk into a lavanderia, drop a bag of dirty, sweat-drenched, over-worn clothes, and you come back a few hours later. What you find is a (washed) bag. They wash your laundry bag! Inside is a big clear plastic bag with your nice smelling (nice, really nice, like oh-my-god I’ve died and gone to lavender smelling heaven nice) clothes. It’s not just clean, it’s super clean. And folded. FOLDED!

Side note: Nobody, not even Martha-Fucking-Stewart can fold clothes as I can. Fitted bed sheets? Kickass. Undies? Folded uniformly and piled so incredibly perfect, like a neat little stack even Macy’s could never accomplish.

But what about the price you have to ask. This is Mexico. Fifty pesos can feed a family of four. Fifty pesos runs anywhere between $3.70 and $4.50 USD. So a big bag of clothes, with bedsheets, towels, kitchen rags runs at 80 pesos. Math? With the current exchange rate that’s like less than a hamburger, fries and a drink at Five Guys.

Intro done. On with the reason why they call me Maria Blanca.

I feel the need for another side note:

My Spanish is still very ‘See Dick. See Jane. See Spot. Spot plays with ball’. You get the drill. I can conjugate most verbs in the present tense, I handle past with a certain amount of decency, and my vocab is asi-asi (so-so). My attempts at making jokes are hilarious. One sided-hilarious. Joking with Mexicans sounds like a laugh-track off timing on a poor 70s sitcom. They laugh, loudly, but not always on time. Which makes you think they are either laughing AT you, or have a different sense of funnies. Or… they laugh an awkward nervous laugh “why is this whitey still talking to me, why is she smiling, what does she want, if I laugh at her she may go away hahahaha”.

During my first visit at the laundromat, when I dropped my smelly bag off, they asked me my name. “Maria” I said. They told me there was a lot of Maria’s in town. Obviously, this is Mexico. They asked my last name. When I told them my real name they looked at me with many question marks in lieu of eyes. I went the easy route and said “Blanca”. I pointed at my skin. I assumed it was clear and that to them, we are all just ghostly white.

In my creative and self-proclaimed genius mind, I made a great joke. It was intended as a wink-wink telling them, it’s okay, I know I’m very white, let’s use it. They laughed, “Ha ha!” I was proud. I made a joke they understood.

TWO – WEEKS – LATER!

My husband and I are walking with a cruiser friend on our way to the local carneceria (butcher). A woman runs down the street hailing me “Maria! Maria!” I turn around, it’s the laundry lady, but she’s in a different part of town. She tells me she now has her own place, and wants my business. I tell her as soon as my shit stinks enough, I’ll be happy to unload it on her. I’m a very civil tourist, always glad to help new entrepreneurs take care of my tighty whities.

The cruiser friend is shocked, he looks at me and says “Are YOU Maria Blanca?”

“Of course,” I say, shaking my head “Everybody knows that!”

“She’s been asking me over and over about you, and I told her I didn’t know any Maria Blanca’s!” I don’t feel it necessary to add that he pronounced it without rolling the r.

My attempt at a joke: fail! She really thought my last name was Blanca. Not as in color-of-my-skin white, but Blanca like Jones or Thompson. So wherever I go, and am required to provide a full name – unless it’s an official visit such as with my sexy gynecologist who dresses like a hot cougar in a rave – I give them my new Mexican name of Maria Blanca.

It’s better than the direct translation of my real name which would be Maria Punta. That makes me sound like I should dress just as my gynecologist does. Maria Punta is the chick you want to be sucking jell-o shots right out of her navel. Maria Blanca is more pure.

On second thought, the Blanca may not be entirely fitting either, unless we talk color.

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38 thoughts on “They Call Me Maria Blanca: The Real Story”

  1. This is a riot! I used to take my laundry to a service when my boys were you and it was THE BEST THING! It was more than what you paid but so worth it. I still miss it today Maria Blanca! 🙂

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  2. This one is so hilarious! Muchas gracias! Now that we are house sitting we have a washer and dryer, so I am the lavanderista (?) and I can tell you my underwear usually just goes back in the drawer straight from the dryer, but lately, inspired by the folded undies I used to get, I am trying to imitate the little stack of folded panties. I used to be sorry for Nikk because he doesn’t wear undies and didn’t get a nice little lovely-smelling stack to put away. HMMM, TMI????

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    1. Not too much TMI, most men go without. Commando! Hey, btw I have your coffee cup you left at yoga this morning… at least I’m assuming its yours!

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  3. Not the worst way to gain a nickname.

    Mine (Buzz) comes from a college friend thinking my given name didn’t have enough character to suit me. So he gave it some.
    Out of all the nicknames I’ve had, that and two others are the only ones that stuck.

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    1. That’s funny, one of the characters in my book is nicknamed Buzz. He was a nice guy… But you see, Maria Blanca is not a nickname, its (supposedly) a real name. I like nicknames though, I wonder if Marr Bulls my derby name is a nickname, or if it’s just another name. Hmm.

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    1. THANKS! I had fun with it, especially getting the pictures of my clown nose and the little clown head, my neighbors think i’m a lunatic! I had to stand out in the sun and hold stuff against my board for a clear white background… hahah!

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  4. I had lots of problems with my name when I lived in Greece. Sas means ‘your’ in Greek, which caused so much confusion that the locals renamed me Sasha (pronounced sassa). My surname is Ryan, and there is no y in the Greek alphabet so at one place I worked I was Sasha Rain for a while! Another employer gave up on my last name completely and decided to use my father’s first name (which you have to put on all official paperwork), so I then became Sasha Peter 🙂

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  5. Maria Blanca?! That is awesome. How do you say “translucent” in Spanish.
    I learned what “punta” means at a major league futbol game in Miami several years ago. Apparently a favorite jeer in the Spanish-speaking sports crowd.

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    1. Translucent is translúcido (emphasis on the u, on account of the accent). Actually punta is a point, but puta is a whore. Oh and a point, like a score, i think is punto. So I guess they yell it like we would yell SCORRRRRRRRE! 🙂

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  6. Ugh not sure why WP hasn’t released my old email yet so I can leave comments with my new site. They are infuriating! So I’m leaving another comment to let you know that the link to my account is wrong!

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    1. Your other comment did go through though. I think the self-hosting at WP is a big pain in the derrière! Even when I am logged in, and comment left and right on WP sites, as soon as I go to a self hosted one I need to verify my identity. Really annoying. If its not too late for you I would suggest transferring to a .com and put an end to hosting fees and all the annoying factors you’re encountering. 😉

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    2. Your other comment did go through though. I think the self-hosting at WP is a big pain in the derrière! Even when I am logged in, and comment left and right on WP sites, as soon as I go to a self hosted one I need to verify my identity. Really annoying. If its not too late for you I would suggest transferring to a .com and put an end to hosting fees and all the annoying factors you’re encountering. 😉

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  8. Back in the day…
    We used lavanderias on several occasions while in Mexico. When we picked our clothes up, they always smelled amazing. I asked one of the ladies working there what they used to make them smell so good. She told me it was the fabric softener and told me the name. This was the first time I ever heard the word Suavitel.
    When we returned home we tried to find it in our local market. They had never heard of it! We called other market chains and they didn’t have it either. We gave up… Several years later we were in the 99 cent store and saw it. The packaging was in Spanish. We bought it all. A while later it was everywhere. I think Palmolive started importing it.

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  9. Maria Blanca! Maria Blanca! Maria Blanca! You are now, and forevermore shall remain, Maria Blanca, teller of stories that are fun and good. And was that the little meeces in “Babe,” saying “Two — Weeks — Later?” ‘Cause if it was, I totally got that. 🙂

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