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Caló: Madreé a Mr. C

Today we continue with an important root word in Caló that’s come in up previous episodes: madre. We’ve already used madre for two other expressions: desmadre, meaning chaos, and maderear, to goof off. Those two terms are unrelated. The term this episode, madrear, goes in still another direction. It means to damage, dominate or control.

By Oscar "El Marfa" Rodriguez

“What a desmadre in this backyard,” Tita told Cuito while looking over the wooden fence from her backyard into his.

“Well, what do you expect? I’m spring cleaning, esa,” said Cuito.

Tita had just come back from a long absence. She had been staying with her two daughters and grandkids, going from one to the other, to convalesce from chemotherapy. The treatments had gone well, but she had needed to be driven back and forth to the treatment center and helped with the aftereffects. The ordeal had made her weak and pale. Most devastating to Tita was, however, that she had to disarm. 

As her sickness made her thin and frail, the big Smith & Wesson 45 she always carried in a clip holster on her back hip protruded comically through her blouses and made her feel off balance. Tita wasn’t one for purses or bags. The only option for her was to put away the gun. She shoved it in one of her boots in the closet and jammed a pair of sandals to keep the iron from falling out accidentally. To be safe, she told her daughters to keep the kids out of her closet. That the devil was there.

“You’ve been gone a long time,” said Cuito.

“All winter and spring. Good thing I didn’t go to the ranch in my sleep. You didn’t think to check to see if I was still alive?” said Tita.

“Oh, I noticed, but mostly because the cats stopped coming around. That’s why you hear so many birds singing and lizards flitting about,” said Cuito.

“You and the wildlife,” said Tita.

“Why were you gone. Taking care of the grandkids?” asked Cuito.

“No. They were taking care of me. I had cancer,” said Tita.

“Cancer. Gatcho. You kick it?” said Cuito.

“Simón. El Mr. C was acting muy macho and madereandose thinking I was already in the bag. But nel,” said Tita with a cackle.

“I told him vale más que le pongas, better get out of here cuz I’m going to give you a madreada that’ll knock you out of your business,” said Tita.

“But you look all madreada yourself,” said Cuito.

“Pos, don’t mention it too much cuz I’ll give you a madreada worse than I gave Mr. C,” said Tita.

Cuito smiled at his neighbor of almost 50 years. 

“Órale,” he said.