The events that happen in childhood shape us, haunt us and turn us into the men and women that will lead the world. It's sociological science fact. When I borrowed a taped copy of Appetite for Destruction from Enrique Fernandez at age nine, I had no idea that 2 Live Crew and NWA were on side 2. I listened to both sides religiously. Sacrilegiously, really. I felt so guilty. So wrong.
These rockers on side one were worshiping the devil and those rappers and the other side were talking about killing cops and all-night sex motels. I loved it and hid it from my parents.
I was at my "cousin" Marco Serna's house later that summer. (He's not really my cousin, but the topic of Cuban cousins, and pretending that people who are not related to you are part of your family, will be elaborated on in a future column.) He walked up to me, giggling, and asked, "José, are you a surfer or a bro?"
I thought about it. I'd never surfed, but, I do have a sister, so, "I'm a bro!" He laughed in my face. I was so confused, he was older and did, in fact, surf; he had a brother, so had to be a bro.
I asked my sister "Why did Marco laugh when I said I was a Bro?" She explained that being a bro meant I liked Power 96 and rap, being a surfer meant I liked rock.
"What if I like both?"
"That's a poseur. That's the worst. You have to pick."
I thought about what side I was on for weeks. I started asking my friends if they were surfers or bros, they all said they were skaters. They liked GNR and did ollies, I owned a skateboard (Nash Nightstalker) so I said I declared I was a skater, too.
I was the worst at it. I caught no air. Plus, I still listened to side two of that tape. I also had a Fat Boys record. The Beastie Boys really confused me. I loved DJ Laz, Sucia and Mentirosa. I was one of the skaters, which later were called rockers. I felt like a poseur -- I loved freestyle and Miami Bass. But I couldn't be a bro. Not out loud.
I remembered being a poseur was the worst of all. I knew that loving both "Shout at the Devil" and "As Nasty as They Wanna Be" was not allowed. I started telling people I was a poseur. It led to ridicule and for a brief period the nickname "Joser Poseur."
As I grew up there were more factions to join. Raver. Punk. Boring goth. Headbanger. Indie. Hip Hopper. Breaker. Ice Chaser. Dragon Rider. I found out in Thrasher magazine that a poseur is a guy who poses to be something he's not.
Liking all things bro made me a super cool dude at dance parties and open houses. One is more likely to feel up a young lady while dancing to Bad of the Heart than while moshing to Reigning Blood.