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No te mandes


Órale, this week’s feature is the word, mandado. It means to be cast to hell or, worse yet, to be sent to the one who’s awaiting you there, La Muerte, who goes by many pseudonyms, like the bald one (la pelona), the one who’s flesh has been rubbed off (la fregada), the boney one (la huesuda), or the toothless one (la mocha). Now, having been mandado to la pelona doesn’t mean you’re already in hell. You’re only on the way there. This is what’s emphasized because, while you’re mandado, you languish, your impending arrival in hell ever present and predominating. Puro hangdog life. Nothing that’s good in life will ever happened to you, no love or empathy for you, no joy, nada. Everybody stops counting on you. Why? Cuz you’re mandado to the fregada. 

After that crazy brolo at the bule on New Year’s Eve, their relationship wasn’t the same. It had stopped being a full boyfriend-girlfriend onda. The vato tried to keep it going, and he could tell his ruca was trying too. But, nel, it wasn’t working anymore. He just didn’t know what to do next.

They wouldn’t talk about that night. In the first place, they couldn’t remember everything that happened, only that they each disappeared into the crowd dancing with another partner. The vato tried to forget it the more he thought about it. He couldn’t remember who it was he had danced with, only that he felt exhilarated, different, which made him fret that his ruca had felt the same. The clashing feelings confused and frustrated him. After months of this vicious cycle, he had grown exasperated.

“Pray?” he asked himself softly.

“What?” she asked.

“Oh, nothing. I was just thinking about something,” he said.

“About New Year’s?” she asked.

He took a deep breath.

“Simón. You ever think about it?” he asked.

“De amadres,” she answered.

“And what do you think?” he said.

“Pos that you te mandaste,” she said.

“You too, esa,” he responded.

“I only remember you smiling like you never do,” she said.

“You too. Do you remember who you were dancing with?” he asked.

“Chale. You?” she asked.

“Chale,” he said.

“Pos you think it’s so bad we should split?”

“No te mandes!” she said, raising her voice.

“Did you capear to her?”

“Chale. You?” he asked.

“Chale,” she said.

After a long silence, the ruca looked up as if she had found the answer.

“Pos, if neither of us remember anything, why can’t it be that we were dancing with each other, and just lost it for a while?” she said.

The vato didn’t think twice.

“Eeee! That’s right. We don’t have to mandar each other or ourselves. Just say the devil was loose that night. Now that I think of it, maybe it was you I was chancleando with,” the vato said, relieved.

The ruca didn’t say anything.

“You still aguitada?” he asked.

“Nel, I’m just thinking you were dancing real de aquellas, like you never do,” she said, cackling.

The vato smiled.

“Pinche diablo made me do it,” he said.

“Pos, I hope he makes you do it again someday,” she said.

Oscar Rodriguez is the creator and host of Caló.