My informant says this about his background:
“My parents are both um…from Mexico… and then they moved to the uh…Sacramento, California in uh ’88 and had my sister and I was born shortly after that in ’91…um…we lived in a mostly Hispanic neighborhood until the time I was in third grade at which point my Dad’s career brought us to a point where we could move into a high income neighborhood elsewhere in Sacramento and I lived there since until I moved to Los Angeles this year for college.”
I would just like to add that he’s raised Catholic.
He told me the following when I interviewed him:
“So the last time I was in Mexican…’cause my family got around…now that a couple of us are grown up, we were at the table and couple of uncles were sharing Pablito jokes…uh, Pablito is like a national figure in some crass, crude Mexican jokes that are usually shared amoung young Mexican adolescents..um..usually involves swearing or some kind of sexual innuendo. One joke is, about Pablito, uh…going to sell vegetables at the market…so his mom sends him off and she says…I’ll say this partly in English and partly in Spanish so the puns make sense and she sends him out and says, mijo, I want you to go out and sell jalapenos, so he goes to the market walking around going ‘jalas, jalas, jalas…jalas, jalas, jalas… (song-like quality)…shortening jalapenos to jalas and she says, ‘no, no, no, miho, they’re jalapenos, you have to say that and don’t shorten them next time! Tomorrow I need you to go sell melons’ and so he goes to the market and he goes ‘melos, melos, melos…. melos, melos, melos and he comes back home, he hasn’t sold anything and his mom says you have to say the whole thing…melones, you can’t shorten it again! Tomorrow, you’re going to go to the market again and you’re going to sell eggs, but you’re not going to shorten anything!’ So finally, Pablito goes to the market on the third day and remembering not to shorten anything, he said the entire phrase ‘jalasmelosjuevos, jalasmelosjuevos, jalasmelosjuevos’, which is basically, ‘pull out my testicles, pull out my testicles, pull out testicles’ so yeah, haha, it’s, yeah…a crude, dirty joke. And if anything, I remember hearing a variant of this in the…uh…elementary school back when I lived in uh…and in that context, just the whole…crude humor thing again, but I don’t quite remember this.’
Then I asked, “Why is the kid called Pablito?” To which, my informant responded:
“Pablito is just like a…a…it can be like…a…in the s-same way that uh…Americans usually use Bob as a default name, it’s like a little default name…uh for some reason, I’m not sure. And of course, ‘blito’ implies that he’s some small kid who’s involved in these crude situations…um another Pablito joke is, um…I’m trying to remember…Pablito has a problem with swearing, he swears a lot…he’s the stock joke boy. He swears a lot, he has a very dirty mouth for a young boy. So uh, he goes to a church, he’s also crippled…he’s arm is bent so that…permanently bent so that uh…he can’t extend it, so this obviously is not good and he sits down at a pew and he prays and prays and prays, ‘God, if you uh, cure my arm, I’ll never swear again, I promise, I promise’. And then, so he prays and nothing happens and then he walk out the church and the second he steps out, his arm extends and he says ‘Ay cabron! and his arm, uh, bends again.’
*Ay cabron is a swear word in Spanish, which is something like fucker*
I inquired further and said, “What’s the significance of this joke?” to which he answered:
“Um, it’s hard to say, but the Pablito, Pablito is very indicative of the every man, not the every man, but the every boy. My parents always told that in the context of the little town they grew up in, so he’s clearly not high income or anything like that…uh…he spends a lot of time on the streets, hence the crude humor, which is usually shared by boys at a young age. Um..usually, not older adolescents but younger people, boys at around ten or eleven, maybe younger….I think it’s just mostly reflective of everyday life of my people.”
While I think my informant hit on many of the important aspects of the joke, I just wanted to point out the emphasis on family and a more agricultural life in the first joke and the focus on Christianity in the second joke. Moreover, the second joke implicitly teaches the moral lesson that “God can take back what he gives, and because of this, we should keep our promises to him”. Lastly, I just wanted to reinforce how Pablito jokes are reflective of a much more impoverished and low class lifestyle (in the neutral sense).
For more Pablito jokes, visit this site (which is in Spanish): http://www.minichistes.com/tag/pablito/