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The coyote table is watching


Órale, this is the second to the last episode focused on Caló words that are related to dances in the Southside. After this, the focus will turn away from specific words and toward conversations carried out entirely in Caló.

Meanwhile, we’ll continue with words heard in dances in the Southside.  The featured word this week is coyote. In Spanish, of course, it means the wild canine predator native to the Americas. It comes from the Nahuatl or Aztec word for the same. In Caló, however, coyote means mixed-blood, where one of the breeds is White.

It was a wedding between two coyote families, the Hills and Baileys. So the dance was big. The two families together touched almost every social chain in the Southside, from the newly arrived Mexican immigrants to the newly arrived Carolinians, and from the well-educated swells who moved away to the nice part of town to the hard-scrabble folks who never thought of leaving the barrio.

Boy was there in the hope he would come across a certain brunette girl he’d seen doing the vuelta every Sunday since school let out. His connection to this network of families was, however, tangential, at very best. The only reason he got in was that a cousin got him an invitation.

Boy noted the elders from both families were sitting together at a long table set up for them right behind the wedding table. He also noted that there was not a Montoya table. No surprise to him, as the Montoyas generally were related only to families from Los Montoyas.

The first question he had to answer when he entered the dancehall was where he was going to sit. He saw many familiar faces. This gave him a lot of options, but he wanted to stay unaligned until he met up with the girl he was waiting for.

“Hey come over to our table,” a cousin from the Ranchito told him as he walked by.

“Órale. I’ll check you out,” said Boy, thinking he didn’t want to be tagged as a country boy.

“Hey, ese, wanna sit with us,” said one of Boy’s many god-brothers pointing to a table of mostly young adult women.

“OK. But I’m waiting for somebody. I may go over later,” said Boy, now concerned the girl he was waiting wasn’t going to show up.

“You alone, ese? I’m with the low-riders in case you need a place to land,” said a friend.

“Chale. Just waiting for somebody,” Boy responded.

The night wore on. Two tandas later, the girl he was waiting for still hadn’t shown up.

“Well, she’s not coming,” Boy told himself and decided to sit with the low-riders.

He had just made himself comfortable at their table when the girl he’d been waiting for walked in.

She didn’t see him and simply walked to the Bailys’ table and sat down.

Boy was out of luck. He didn’t have any connection to anybody at that table.

“Do any of you know anybody at that table?” Boy asked out loud.

“Nel, ese. That’s the main coyote table. And we all got invitations second-hand. You go there from here, and they’ll ask who let you in,” said a middle-aged woman.

“Simón. You can’t get to that coyote table from the lowrider table,” a man at Boy’s table said.

Boy frowned.

Oscar Rodriguez is the creator and host of Caló.