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Caló: That ruca is just using you, vato

Órale, today we’re going to talk about a frequently used word in Caló, ruca. It means a girlfriend you may not intend on marrying. Of course, your intentions may change, but the initial attraction may have been otherwise. It comes from the old Castilian word for a wildflower that blooms from a pernicious weed, beautiful to see but not something you would bring home and put in a vase.

Boy could not help smiling. He was alone sitting in his ranfla parked in front of his house looking out the windshield lost in a daydream. Smiling and smiling. It was Sunday morning, almost noon. The thought of the previous night at the quinceañera dance with that blonde girl was still very present in his mind. She smiled at him all the time, as they sat at the table, as they danced and even as they said goodbye. Most vivid in Boy’s mind was the brief kiss goodnight and the accompanying long and animated smile. 

“Eeeee, a toda madre!” thought Boy.

“What are you smiling at, vato?” Chabelita asked, seemingly out of nowhere.

Boy leaned away from the driver’s window, where Chabelita had unexpectedly intruded and dashed his daydream.

“Nothing. Just thinking of something,” he said, his smile having fallen off his face.

“Nel, ese. You were daydreaming. Qué no?” said Chabelita.

“Pos, maybe. So?” said Boy.

“What about? You seemed to be all happy about it,” said Chabelita.

“Oh, nada really. Just an old memory,” said Boy.

“Liar. No you were thinking of that dyed blonde ruca from across town? You seemed real happy. Like…,” said Chabelita before she was interrupted.

“I was thinking of the dance and how things went really well,” said Boy.

“You’re lying. You were thinking of that güerita,” said Chabelita.

“I didn’t figure you for somebody who would fall so easily for a ruca like that.”

“Qué? She’s nice but doesn't know the barrio well,” said Boy.

“Right. She doesn’t know the barrio, and she’s not barrio either, even though she has cousins here. She’s from the güero side of town. And now she’s exploring the bad side of town and needs a boy like you she can melt with a smile to show her around. Ojo, beware, vato. She’s looking for something, and I bet it ain’t you, vato,” said Chabelita.

“You don’t know, esa. She’s a nice girl. This is probably the first time she’s been in the barrio,” said Boy.

“I believe that. It’s just funny you met her. How’d that happen?” said Chabelita.

“Nothing funny about it. She came with her aunt to a family backyard thing,” said Boy.

“And you enchanted her with your rhetoric?” asked Chabelita.

Boy didn’t answer.

“Right. She did the talking. And here you are, all enchanted,” said Chabelita.

Boy didn’t answer.

“Don’t say anything, vato. The ruca’s she needs you. But when she finds what she’s looking for…,” said Chabelita.

“Nel,” said Boy.

“Oh, simón, vato. She’s not your type,” said Chabelita.