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Caló: Le Canto


The Caló expression 'le canta' is this episode’s feature. It comes from the Spanish verb cantar, to sing. In Caló it means to speak strongly or with great intention about something. When somebody la canta to somebody else, it’s usually to mark a boundary or give a warning, as in to say, “pay attention to what I’m saying because what comes next is action.”

Sunday night had fallen like a sobering thought. The excitement of the weekend had come to an end. For everybody in Boy’s household, sleep was what was next. After that, Monday morning. Boy was trying to make the day last by staying a little past twilight listening for the old men at the gas station to lay down a joke or make a snarky cut at one of their compadres. The repartee was usually constant and entertaining, but now it seemed even they were winded. They didn’t say anything, only nodded at each other. There was only monotony. Nothing at all entertaining. Plus, Tim, the funniest of them all was not there. He was in El Chuco doing something.

It was time to go home. Boy stepped away silently. Turning the corner to his home, he spotted his brother Flaco walking animatedly toward him.

“You won’t believe what just happened,” said Flaco, still twenty paces away.

“What?” asked Boy.

“La jefita le canto gatcho to uncle Tavo?” said Flaco, has face sweating.

“Le canto about what?” asked Boy, taken aback. 

“About talking dirty,” said Flaco.

“Dirty?” said Boy, incredulous. 

“Cussing?” asked Boy.

“Chale. He was talking about his visit to the doctor’s,” explained Flaco.

Boy winced. Uncle Tavo and the doctor’s office seemed too incongruous to him. He couldn’t understand.

“No, he came to look for work?” said Boy.

“Pos, sirol, and he found some right away. But they made him go to the doctor’s first,” said Flaco.

“Oh, a physical,” said Boy.

“I guess,” said Flaco. 

“It’s gacho. That’s why I quit football. No way they were going to put their hands down there on me,” he added.

“So Tio Tavo went?” asked Boy.

“Seems like it cuz he was telling la jefita all about it,” said Flaco.

“Everything? Asked Boy?

“Pos he was telling her they grabbed him like they were in the honeymoon,” said Flaco.

“I was just listening,” he added.

“Eeee!” exclaimed Boy.

“Simón. Then he started saying the doctor was talking to him in the middle of it. And la jefita cut him off. She said shut up. You’re not in a cantina or the street where it doesn’t matter what you say. You’re in my home and the children are listening. So watch what you’re saying. Nobody wants to hear what you two were doing with the doctor. You understand? Now get out of the kitchen, she said,” Flaco went on.

“Órale. She was mad,” said Boy.

“Eeee, simón,” said Flaco.

“That’s why I didn’t tell her anything when I joined boxing,” said Boy.

“What? You got a physical?” asked Flaco.

“Simón. They weren’t gonna let me in without it. You wanna hear what happened?” said Boy.

“Chale, chale,” said Flaco.

Oscar Rodriguez is the creator and host of Caló.
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