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Bullies acting all mentos


Órale, the featured word of this episode is mento. It comes from the Latin word, mentis, which means mind or intellect. Caló stays close to the Latin meaning and uses the word to denote somebody who thinks they’re smart. It’s also used for people who are showing off that they know more or have higher privilege. The world of Caló is littered with wrecks of people who fell from heaven after acting all mento.

“Ernesto, you haven’t been participating in class the way you usually do. What’s going on that you’ve been quiet all week?” Miss Taylor, Boy’s 5th grade class teacher asked him.

The problem was that the Almanza twins were in the room. They had been demoted from 6th grade. They had skipped school too much the previous year. Then after a month of hanging out in class with their old classmates the next fall, and of course playing hooky again, the principal decided to put them back in 5th grade because they were so far behind the 6th grade class.

Now they were in Boy’s class acting like bullies. They laughed and made fun of everybody. They seemed to have the most fun with kids who gave a wrong answer to the teacher.

“Yeah, Boy, tell’er why you’re so quiet, vato,” they chided him from behind the classroom but not loud enough for the teacher to hear.

The teacher knew what the Almanzas were doing, and it annoyed her. But she didn’t want to give in to them.

“I’ll give Ernesto a win and teach the twins a lesson,” Miss Taylor thought to herself.

“Come on Ernesto. Here’s a question about place and setting you should know.”

“What is the proper setting for a boat? The lake, the highway, or the mountains?” she asked, looking at Boy.

Boy didn’t say anything. All he could think of was those mentos jumping on him if he was wrong.

“Yeah, Boy, tell the teasher what the answer is,” one of the twins said.

“Let him answer. I’m going to ask you the next question,” the teacher said.

The twins shut up.

After a long hesitation, Boy answered, “the highway.”

“You sure?” the teacher asked encouragingly.

“Hee, hee, he doesn’t know,” one twin said to the other.

The teacher heard and walked over to them.

“Do you know the answer?” she said sternly.

The larger of the twins leaned back in his chair and pushed his brother to answer.

“Hey, teasher, is the lake the same as the ocean? Cuz my mom said I’ve never been to the ocean,” the smaller of the two responded, partly to his brother and partly to the teacher.

“My name is Miss Taylor, and no, a lake is not the same as the ocean. But now I know why you kids may think that a proper setting for a boat is the highway,” she said, shaking her head walking back to her desk at the head of the class.

The twins didn’t get it at all, but it made them think a little and be quiet until lunch break.

Oscar Rodriguez is the creator and host of Caló.