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Caló: There’s a spot on your lisa, ese

Today’s Caló word is lisa. It means a crisply ironed shirt. It comes from the Spanish word for shirt, camisa. While it’s a contraction of that term, it’s also a Spanish adjective, liso, meaning smooth. A real vato makes sure to always have on a nicely pressed lisa, perhaps an unbuttoned short-sleeve linen in the summer and a fully buttoned up woolen or flannel in the winter.

By Oscar "El Marfa" Rodriguez

It was a Homeric omen.

To El Lowrider,  it was a sign that something bad was going to happen. First there was that dream about a grackle pecking his head he couldn’t get out of his mind. Now this. 

The crowd had let out of the wedding ceremony and was moving slowly to the reception hall across the parking lot. El Lowrider was near the head of the crowd, as he had been standing in the back next to the exit. He was walking right behind the newlyweds when suddenly a flock of pigeons swooped over the crowd. He didn’t see them because at that moment he looked down through his dark sunglasses at the hot asphalt. He felt a slight tug on the front pocket of his crisply ironed lisa, but he assumed it was just the extra starch he had applied on the pocket had buckled. 

Once in the hall, a young man came up to him and pointed to his pocket.  

“There’s a spot on your lisa, ese,” he said.

El Lowrider looked down at his pocket and was astonished to find a puddle of goo.

“Eeee! What’s this?” he said to himself.

The young man stepped away.

El Lowrider took out a handkerchief and tried to sop up the thick liquid. He dabbed inside his pocket with his handkerchief, but some of it had already leaked through the pocket.

“Qué pasó? Qué pasó?” he kept saying, incredulous.

Seeing El Lowrider distressed, Boy went over to see what was going on.

“Qué pasa?” he asked El Lowrider.

“I don’t know, but somehow I got some goop in my pocket. Maybe it’s a candy that melted,” El Lowrider said.

“Gacho. And a nice lisa, too,” said Boy.

“Sirol, and it’s a light color. So the spot’s going to show gacho,” said El Lowrider.

“Wait. Your gafas, sunglasses, have a streak on them, too,” said Boy.

“Qué qué!” shouted El Lowrider, taking off his glasses.

Sure enough, there was a thin streak of whatever was in his pocket now on his glasses.

“Qué pasó? Qué pasó?” he said in desperation.

“Looks like you got bombed by a bird,” said Boy.

El Lowrider’s rubbed his forehead to steady himself. His lisa was now also wet with perspiration, and the bird poop continued to run through his pocket and down his shirt.

“I knew this was an unlucky lisa. The lines were all crooked and the pocket wouldn’t stay down. I should’ve listened to myself and worn my black lisa instead. That color brings me better luck. That’s all I’m going to wear from now on,” he said.