He’s not a huerco
Órale, today we’re going to talk about the Caló word huerco. It means a child that’s older than a toddler but younger than an adolescent. It’s said to come from the name of a European god, Orcus, the devil. But it in Caló, it’s an endearing word for an elementary school-age child.
Leaning against a wall in the middle of his first ever nighttime party, El Low Rider sensed something was going on, but he couldn’t tell if he should be into it or run.
His people didn’t come from OJ, like most of the people in the Southside. His people came from the Great Plains. He was indeed of the same people as the Southsiders, but his gene pool stayed on the plains and moved directly to the Southside, where he grew up. His friends and neighbors in the Southside also came originally from the plains, but they migrated first to OJ then, after several generations crossed the Rio Grande again and migrated back to the plains, specifically the Southside.
This jog in historical trajectory ensured El Low Rider’s affinity with the people of the Southside, but it also made for a few sharp edges of contrast. Aesthetics and moral questions were the areas of El Low Rider’s existence where he sometimes stumbled and clashed with his peers. And it was happening again.
In this case, the edge was that everybody was smiling at him, but he couldn’t tell why. He could even hear faint chuckling through the music of Santana blaring from big speakers sitting on the carpet floor of the living room he was in.
Not knowing what to do, El Low Rider smiled back.
More, louder chuckling.
Then a vato in shiny Stacy Adams and pressed kakis walked up and stood inches from El Low Rider’s face.
“Who invited you, ese?” he asked loudly.
“Came with Sam,” El Low Rider responded, pointing his chin toward his sidekick since the 1st grade.
The vato looked over at Sam, turned back, and tilted his head.
“So? Never watched you in school, and Sam don’t get to invite anybody cuz he’s just a huerco from elementary.
“You never watched me cuz I don’t go to high school,” said El Low Rider.
“Drop out o qué?” the vato said.
“Chale. I go to school with Sam,” said El Low Rider.
“Nel! You’re no huerco. You look older than me,” the vato said, and without warning swung his arm around El Low Rider’s neck to get him in an arm lock.
El Low Rider grabbed his arm, unwound it, and with his other hand reached behind the vato’s head and pulled him to the floor. Once there, he pressed the side of the vato’s face into the carpet and held him there.
The vato tried frantically to get out of the vise but couldn’t.
Everybody looked on surprised, memorized by how El Low Rider had totally overpowered the vato.
“Tell him to stop, Sam!” the vato on the floor screamed.
“Stop, ese. He’s my cousin,” Sam yelled.
El Low Rider let him go.
The vato got up and walked away.
“You better get out. This ain’t huerco party,” a young woman said.
“Órale, let’s go, ese,” Sam said to El Low Rider.