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Caló: Me pinto un venado


Órale, today’s episode features the complex expression, ‘pintar un venado’. It’s modern Spanish. In English it means ‘paint a deer.” It’s used in Caló to say stand somebody up or miss an date. There’s a reverse side, pintate un vendao, which means get lost or disappear like a deer. It’s a hard saying used when the missed date or demand is heart-felt. 

By Oscar "El Marfa" Rodriguez

It was a late-night gathering in a big gulch astride an arroyo between Comanche and Tarilas. Dozens of people circulated between two campfires, all trespassing except — he said — a Coyote who opened the gate to the parade of cars from The Sit-n-Bull bar near Bastos.

There was not much conversation except Manny and a college kid from Odesón. Manny was explaining what the gathering was about and who Raulo and El Jaim were. Raulo was at the fire. Everybody else tried to listen in.

“No se han watchao, they haven’t seen each other in 20 years when they split up in El Chuco,” said Manny. “One to the Army y the other to el Air Force, watchas.”

Raulo, a big guy with long arms, scoffed, “Sirol, but why?”

Manny explained. “The sheriff let El Jaim off the hook to sign up for the Army and left town right away. So he told the deputies to take him to Raulo’s, a war orphan like him. They did and El Jaim asked Raulo to go with him, and he did. And the sheriff’s deputies drove them to the recruitment office, but Jimmy came back and Raulo went off to a 4-year hitch with the Army. But he played baseball around the world the entire time. He recently came home to retire after coaching at a community college. But he could have been retiring from the NFL or major leaugues….”

Raulo interrupted. “It went OK, I did play for the majors. Started a few games. But that’s not the onda, deal. They drove him back to Tarilas, and then later pa’tras, back to El Chuco to go to the Air Force. Porqué.”

“You don’t know?” asked the kid.

“Nel,” replied Raulo. “Never saw him again after we split up.”

A while later, El Jaim rrived. 

He made the rounds then went to Raulo’s fire. 

Introductions. Then a long silence as the two childhood friends stared at each.

“How is it you went to the Air Force but your friend here went to the Army?” asked the kid. 

“Pos, I flunked the tests and he passed,” El Jaim said. “All I was thinking was getting back. I said, ‘chale, they ain’t gonna run me out of town. I thought Raulo was thinking the same.

“No, you were I don’t want to go alone,” said Raulo.

El Jimmy paused a long while then finally said, “since they had pulled the football, baseball, and basketball star out of high school to join the Army,” said El Jimmy, “the deputies drove me back home and tried to keep it quiet by not putting me in jail. But later they got me helping load stolen beer onto a pickup. So I gave them the deal they had given me. And they took it.”

“So what happened to you, carnal? El Jimmy asked Raulo.

“I went to Georgia to play baseball. Kept me out of Vietnam, but a recruiter from Notre Dame had been talking to me about a scholarship. Could’ve done those four years in college. Pero no se iso (but it didn’t happen). That morning you said vámonos, and I did. Then you painted me a deer.”

“So, pintate un vendado.” Raulo said coldly.

After a long pause, El Jimmy said, “órale (I will)” then walked away.

“Why carnal?” asked Manny.

“Cuz me pintó un venadio,” Raulo said.

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