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Caló: Watchas, El Cinco De Mayo

Órale, today’s episode is about the word ‘watcha.’ It means look at, get my point, or watch out. It comes from the English word, watch. It could very well be the most used word in Caló today, as it’s become somewhat of a catchall, watchas.

By Oscar "El Marfa" Rodriguez

It was May 4, and Boy was in OJ weeks before the end of school on either side of the river. Back in the Southside where he attended high school, things had already slowed down, and he had completed all his required assignments. He had done so well that exams were optional.

In OJ, the end of school was still a month away. His options now were entertaining himself until school let out, roll down to the southern rancherias for a month, or attend classes with his cousins in OJ.

“Come with us to class with El Profe Porfe,” said his cousin Nati.

“Watcha, Elmer and everybody else will be there, and El Profe Porfe won’t mind.”

“Órale,” said Boy.

The next morning a large contingent of cousins came by for him and escorted him to the prepa, the sole high school in OJ. Everybody had to pay, but Boy was assured he wouldn’t be charged cuz he’d only be there a month and he wouldn’t have to turn in any work for the teacher, El Profe Porfe.

“Bien venido, Ernesto,” said El Profe Porfe.

“How you say en el otro lado? Welcome in?” said El Profe Porfe. 

“Si, that’s how you say it,” said Boy in Spanish.

“But they call him Boy on the other side, profe,” said Nati in the same language.

“Ah, OK. Entonces, Boy,” said El Profe Porfe.

“Everybody sit down. Does anybody know what special day in history is today?” asked El Profe Porfe.

Silence.

“Come on. How about you, the Tejano? It’s a special day for Texans,” said El Profe Porfe pointing at Boy.

“Pos it’s cinco de Mayo,” said Boy.

“Right. But why is it special?” asked El Profe Porfe.

“Because it’s when Mexico defeated France,” said Boy.

“Exacto!” exclaimed El Profe Porfe.

“Now, who can tell us where that last battle was fought?”

Silence. 

“Come on. Didn’t anybody read your history that chapter?” asked El Profe Porfe.

Silence. 

“Pos ask el Tejano,” said Nati.

Everybody chuckled.

“Si, do you know, Ernesto?” asked El Profe Porfe.

“Because here it seems nobody knows the French were ever in Mexico.”

“Puebla,” said Boy.

“Exacto!” shouted El Profe Porfe.

“And what was the name of the general who defeated the French?” El Profe Porfe asked Boy.

Boy shrugged his shoulders. That was as far as he could go. 

“Zaragoza. He was from Texas,” said El Profe Porfe.

After school let out, the pack of cousins walked merrily to the central plaza to rent comic books and check out the goings on.

“How’d you know so much about the war with the French?” asked Nati.

“Everybody in the Southside knows, watchas. They even put on a celebration and parade on that day,” said Boy.

“Watcha, here they know better what the fourth of July is than the cinco de Mayo,” said Nati.

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