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Puro arranque


Órale, this episode starts the summer series where the conversations will be heavily in Caló, drawing from the words we’ve used until now. The featured word of this episode is arranque. In modern Spanish, it’s a noun that means takeoff or launch. In Caló, however, it’s an adjective that means forward-leaning, brave, or fierce. It can be either a personality type or a code of conduct. Indeed, it’s easier to follow the arranque code if you’re already of that personality type than not.

It was El Low Rider’s last night of freedom. The following day, he was going to the pinta to serve a forty-year sentence. The jura had given him two weeks to put his chivas in order, and this night was the end. They had even come by just before noon and told him to be outside the next morning at 7 a.m. in just a T-shirt, tramados, and chanclas. No party that night they had added.

So El Low Rider was now in the company of only a few friends and relatives.

“You done packing for college, ese?” joked his young nephew, Boy, cabuleando like everybody had been doing all night.

But nobody was laughing anymore.

“Hungry, mijo?” asked El Low Rider’s mother to break the silence.

“Chale, I don’t want to refinar or even drink anything. I just wanna get my mind set, es todo,” said El Low Rider.

Heavy as his sentence was, it didn’t have to happen. He was being torcido truly only because he was so arranque. Because le cantó gatcho to the prosecutor, judge and jury all at the same time.

“Do you regret what you did?” the prosecutor had asked toward the end of the trial.

“Nel, my only regret is that I wasted a year on bail waiting for this sura trial. I could’ve gone earlier and would’ve gotten out sooner,” he declared matter-of-factly, never taking off his sunglasses.

The bailiff never flinched. He knew El Low Rider wouldn’t start anything. That nobody insulted or attacked him meant he was going to stay calm and compliant.

“I can sentence you right now or wait two weeks for you to get your affairs in order before I do it,” the judge had said.

“Pos tell me right now how much time then give me two weeks to get ready to go away,” El Low Rider had responded without reaction.

The judge had turned to the sheriff, who shrugged to indicate that it made no difference to him. The bail bond was on El Low Rider’s mother’s house. There’d be no problem at all.

“Vato, you’re too arranque for this century. Had you said, simón, I regret it. I was just trying to stay alive…,” El Low Rider’s uncle, a man the same age as him, started to say.

But El Low Rider cut him off.

“It makes no difference what century, ese,” he interrupted.

Nobody contradicted him.

“Watcha, I stay in my law. That’s all I know. Órale don’t owe this onda, but sirol I owe others. Importa madre everything else,” said El Low Rider.

Oscar Rodriguez is the creator and host of Caló.