© 2024 Marfa Public Radio
A 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

Lobby Hours: Monday - Friday 10 AM to Noon & 1 PM to 4 PM
For general inquiries: (432) 729-4578
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Caló: You wanted bulé?

Órale, the word for this episode is bule. In Caló it means a disreputable place or event. It also means to party with abandon, what in the American vernacular is called a bender. You don’t always plan a bule. It becomes a fact only after the fact, maybe starts out as a small party among then turns into a multi-day affair. And the place is where there often is a bule doesn’t guarantee one, say, if it’s closed or the evening is interrupted in some way that either shuts down the bule or moves it to another spot. As some people say about other indescribable things, you only know a bule when you see it.

By Oscar "El Marfa" Rodriguez

Boy’s big brother, Flaco, walked into the kitchen just in time for the wedding breakfast.

He looked yellow and gaunt, and he smelled of campfire smoke and something rancid. Everybody at the table, his parents, uncles, cousins, and Boy gave him wide berth at the table. After all, he had earned it.

He had been out all night helping his uncles and cousins barbecue the beef that would be served at the wedding that afternoon. The mob of men and boys had sacrificed a steer, quartered and salted it, seasoned it with onions and green chiles, wrapped it in green cornhusks and tinfoil, buried it in a pit of rocks, and nursed a campfire above it all night. 

Of course, the beer and whisky started flowing right after they had dispensed with the yearling animal with an old 30-30 that the maestro, an old man from the neighborhood everybody hired to guide barbecues like these, had pulled out of an old sleeping bag in his pickup. But when the single-shot infantry rifle as safely back in the maestro’s pickup, the bule started in earnest. The younger men were assigned to dig the pit. The younger boys were ordered to gather suitable rocks. The older men dedicated themselves to helping the maestro quarter the steer and prepare the meat. 

“And what did you do to help, Flaco?” Boy asked, his eyebrows raised comically high.

“Water,” was all that Flaco said.

“You fetched the water for the maestro?” asked one of the uncles at the table.

“Water for what?” asked another uncle.

“For cleaning the knives?” asked an older cousin.

“No, for watering the rocks to keep the meat from burning?” asked Flaco’s mother.

“I would have thought you were in charge of the music. It was blaring all night—mostly the same song over and over,” said Boy

“And there was a lot of shouting, too,” said Flaco’s father.

“What was going on? Was there a fight or something?”

“They lit the bulé early and didn’t stop until sunup,” said Boy.

“Entonces, what did you do with the water?” Flaco’s mother insisted.

“No, I want water,” said Flaco, holding out a shakey hand and looking far off into the distance.

“Umhm, you sure you don’t want more bulé? Andale, more bulé,” Flaco’s mother chided.