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They carry fileros?


Órale, the feature of this episode is the word fileriar. There’s no comparable word in modern Spanish, only the close Latin root of filo, which means true or straight. In Spanish, the filo of anything is the sharp edge of it, and to afilar is to sharpen. In Caló, the conjugation of this term goes further and names the sharpened object itself, filero, which means a sharpened shank or knife. Caló also turns this noun into a verb, fileriar. Some English speakers may note the close resemblance to the term fillet, as in to slice and splay a fish.

Boy was in what he swore would be his last quinceañera. He didn’t even know the honoree, who had roots in the Southside but otherwise lived in El Chuco. He had turned 16 months earlier, which meant he should’ve retired from the career, but noble oblige called. The quinceañera’s kin in the Southside scoured the barrio for eligible enough boys and girls, and he had been snagged as part of group deal. Chavelita, his neighbor and childhood friend had committed to her friend, Crystal, a cousin to the quinceañera, that she would field the chamberlains if Crystal signed up the damas.

“Hey, vato. I need you to get six of your friends to escort me and Crystal and four other girls at her cousin’s quinceañera,” Chavelita told Boy one early morning in July.

“What? Why can’t they just get the girl’s cousins to step in?” asked Boy.

“Cuz she’s lives in El Chuco and doesn’t know anybody, and all her cousins are too old,” said Chavelita.

“Madres. I was hoping I was done with being a chamberlain. I’ve done nine already,” complained Boy.

“Pos one more and you’ll make 10. Then you can retire, ese,” said Chavelita.

“I don’t know who I can ask cuz all my friends are 16 or older,” said Boy.

“No you have a güero cousin that gets in all the quinceañeras?” asked Chavelita.

“Uhhh. Benny, he’s not a güero. He just uses whitener. And he runs with a bad clica,” said Boy.

“No matter. With him, you only need four more,” insisted Chavelita.

Boy frowned and looked up despairingly.

“What, ese?” asked Chavelita.

“Benny and his friends always walk around with fileros. They’re rotten little smart-alecks, afraid somebody’s gonna say their jokes are corny or something,” said Boy.

“Ah, Órale. Pos you invite them and I’ll make them turn in their fileros before they go into the dance,” said Chavelita confidently.

“You can’t trust them,” protested Boy.

“Not gonna trust them. Gonna show them my filero and tell them I’ll fileriar them if they cause any problems. Watcha, I’ll pat them down myself before and after the security guys do. Simón ese, they’re not bringing their pinche little fileros with me around,” said Chavelita.

Chavelita’s arranque (bravado) didn’t surprise Boy. He didn’t doubt she’d follow through. But he didn’t look convinced enough to her.

“Sokay, ese. The rucas I’ll pair them up with will make sure we control’em. Just get your cousin and four of his friends,” said Chavelita waving off Boy’s worries.

Oscar Rodriguez is the creator and host of Caló.