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You need a sobada, esa!


The featured word for this episode of Caló is sobar. In modern Spanish it means to kneed or massage. Among Caló-speakers along the Rio Grande, sobar is a medical procedure, where a sobador or sobadora massages key muscles on a patient to make either the patient or the muscles go to sleep, depending on whether the ailment is mental, spiritual, or physical.

“You got another tallboy, ese?” Tita called out to Cuito over their backyard fence.

“Siról, esa," said Cuito. "I’ll bring it.”

He walked over and popped the cap in front of her.

“Thanks, ese. I need one,” said Tita.

“Hey, nice mariachis the other day,” said Cuito.

“Oh, yeah, muy nice,” said Tita.

Cuito sensed she was a little disquieted.

“So you’re güero is back? Qué suave,” he said.

“Pos no sé if he’s back or not,” said Tita. "I’m too old pa’ be doing romance. Watchas?” she said.

“It’s not the age, esa," said Cuito. "No, it’s about if you love each other?”

“Puro nonsense, ese. When you got lots of age, you can see more than when you were a chava. You can like something but still be able to see qué it’s gonna be trouble if you have it,” said Tita.

“Pos, you’re the boss of yourself at that age but I think something’s not right with you. I think your brain isn’t connecting with your body and feelings, esa,” said Cuito.

Tita looked at him hard. Then she took a long drink from the tall beer can. Then she looked back at him and raised her eyebrows.

“What are you talking about, vato?” she said after a long pause.

“I’m saying you need a sobada. You’re not thinking right. A vato comes over with mariachis on your birthday. You let him in and spend all that time with you. And seems like a nice vato. Has a truck. But you’re not sure? Ummm,” said Cuito.

“I don’t believe in that stuff,” said Tita.

“It’s not about belief, esa. A sobadora doesn’t do brujerias, or spells. She massages you so get in a better mood and see things more clearly,” argued Cuito.

“Pos, I don’t know any sobadora that knows how to sobar like that. The only ones I know specialize in crooked backs,” said Tita.

“Simón. There are viejitas older than you who can give you a sobada that’ll change the way you think. Mucha experience y knowledge,” said Cuito.

“Pos, I don’t know a viejita like that. So I guess a la madre with the güero,” said Tita.

“Come on, esa. Give it a try. I know one that helped me out a toda madre,” said Cuito.

“Oh, pos I can see the results,” said Tita sarcastically.

Oscar Rodriguez is the creator and host of Caló.