The featured Caló word of the week is capear. In modern Spanish, it’s a verb that means to distract or draw attention, which is what a bull fighter does with his capote, his cape. In Caló, capear means to acquiesce, cooperate, or return a favor or gesture.
It was the first quinceañera Boy was old enough to be allowed in the marcha. It was not the first one he’d seen. He knew what to do, but the advice he was getting from a cousin was making him think he had missed perhaps one of the biggest dimensions of the exercise, courting.
“If you take somebody out to dance before the marcha, then you can ask her to be your match when the line forms,” his cousin, who was almost a year younger than Boy, said softy in his ear.
“What?” said Boy.
“If you’re chicken, you can try to look into their eyes to see if they’ll capear,” his cousin went on.
“What are you going to do?” Boy asked him.
“I’m already seeing if they capean by eyesight. If they do, I’ll ask them to dance, then ask one of them if they’ll capear to be my match in the marcha,” his cousin responded.
Boy gave him a look of ‘no you got it all figured out.’
His cousin nodded confidently.
“You gotta get a match or march with a cousin, if they’re not already taken. You can’t get in the line without a match,” he heaped on.
“I know that, ese,” said Boy, who then set his sights to the crowd.
His cousin stood up and walked off presumably to ask a girl out to dance who had assured him by eye contact that she would capear with him.
Boy looked deep into the crowd. To his great surprise, everybody seemed to be doing the same, old and young. Some who already had a match but were curious about who else was going to match up. And boys and girls who were telepathically announcing to anybody who would see them that they were willing to capear. The communication was intense but mesmerizing.
Eventually his eyes locked on a girl he hadn’t seen since first grade. She looked straight at him. Then squinted and a blinked. That was it. Boy was sure she was going to capear. He nodded, and she capeó.