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All remangados?


The Caló word for this episode is remangar, which means to steal. It comes from the Kalé, or Iberian Romaní, word for the same, mangar. A close-sounding word in Spanish is manga, which means sleeve.

Since Spanish and the Iberian Romaní language are both of Indo-European origin, it is possible that sleeve and steal, as in put something under your sleeve, are of the same origin. To be sure, remangar in Rio Grande Caló is used in reference to light theft: only objects you can hide in your hand, sleeve, pocket, pant leg, or memory allow for a remango.

Even days after the backyard party, everybody was talking about Tita’s blonde boyfriend. He didn’t talk much, and she didn’t go out of her way to introduce him. She just walked around with him and showed off.

The word had even spread to the cashiers at the grocery store.

“That’s the old lady who brought that gabachote to the quinceañera,” a cashier in the next aisle said to her sacker quietly.

“I heard he was a lot younger than her,” whispered the sacker.

Tita could hear them perfectly. It helped that they dropped their guard, thinking her age meant she couldn’t hear well.

“Pos the old lady still turns heads,” said a cashier two counters away.

Tita smiled to herself.

“Wait. I forgot prophylactics,” Tita said to her cashier.

“What?” the young woman asked, her expression clearly showing she didn’t understand what Tita was talking about.

“To not get disease,” said Tita loudly, thrusting her fist a couple of times.

The cashier got the point and turned to her colleagues in the other counters. All the cashiers turned to look at each other and smiled widely.

“Did you move them or did you run out? They used to be by the family aisle, but not today,” said Tita.

“Oh, that’s where they’re supposed to be if you’re talking about…” the cashier started to say, but was cut off.

“What else can I be talking about? So you’re out? Or remangados by everybody?” said Tita, having great fun bedeviling the young cashiers.

“That would be a lot…” said the cashier.

“De a madres it’s a lot. And it’s not even Saturday or a holiday or something. Whoever’s been remangandoing them is gonna cause a big explosion,” interrupted Tita.

“I’ll go check,” a young man standing behind an idle counter said.

“Simon, you better check, cuz there was nothing,” said Tita.

Seconds later, the young man who went to check returned.

“There are some. Regulars,” the young man said.

“Only regulars? That’s not what I need for my güero, who, by the way, ain’t a gabacho — just güero,” said Tita as she pushed her cart away from the counter, making sure not to look at any of the cashiers.

Oscar Rodriguez is the creator and host of Caló.