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Caló: Worse than choteado, he’d be chonteado

Órale, the Caló word for today is chonteado. It’s a very colorful word made up of two otherwise unrelated words: choteado, which means disqualified or disgraced, and calzones, which means underpants. Caló fuses the two words to arrive at an image of something or somebody that’s been eliminated or soiled beyond redemption, as if they were underwear that you simply have to throw away.

“Why would it cost that much if the part’s only $30?” Boy heard a man who had come in for a lube job in El Low Rider’s shop ask.

The man said he'd brought his ’79 Buick Wildcat in thinking the noise was a matter of un-greased gears. But now that the car was up on the lift and El Low Rider had barely dipped his finger in the gear box and confirmed it was full of grease already, there was no denying that the problem was much more complicated and expensive.

“Cuz I’m going to have to take out the differential and disassemble the gear box to replace the central cog that’s all choteado –– ruined. It’s what usually gives out in these heavy cars. It’s either missing a tooth, or it's so worn out that it slips a little and climbs over the other gears. That’s why,” said El Low Rider. “Look, if you don’t do anything, you’re still going to have to pay for the lube service and the lift. And it’s only going to get worse. In the meantime, you ain’t gonna have the pick-up from a dead stop you once had. You decide.”

“Pos, I wasn’t thinking I was gonna spend that much money today,” said the car owner. 

“Watcha, I’ll do the job right now if you go get the part and pay me $100 now and the rest by the end of the month,” said El Low Rider.

“Hmmm. Está de aquellas, that’s great! I’ll go get the part and the cash,” said the car owner.

“Órale. I’ll call the auto parts store and tell them what I need and that you’re coming,” said El Low Rider.

El Low Rider left to make a phone call. The car owner stood under his car shaking his head, but almost smiling, like somebody who had come into to some luck. Boy noticed. The man sensed Boy was staring at him and turned away a few seconds before he faced Boy and nodded his head backwards, as if asking what Boy was looking at. Boy looked down without saying anything.

El Low Rider soon came back.

“You’re set. They have the part and they’re waiting for you,” said El Low Rider.

The man hopped in his black Wildcat as soon as El Low Rider lowered the car, which backed out quietly but emitted a soft grinding noise when it started moving forward.

“You sure you can trust him to pay you back?” Boy asked as soon as the Buick was out of sight.

“Oh, sí. No problem. He don’t pay me, I’ll get on him like burned oil got on his church clothes. Worse than his differential choteado. He’s gonna be like a calzón so chonteado you have to throw away,” said El Low Rider confidently.