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Tirando ojo

Órale, I’m continuing with the story I started last week about a vato who finds peace with his mortal enemy. If didn’t hear that episode, know that it ended with the vato, who’s very canjijo, backing up a sura bully named Quique.

The feature for the continuing episode is the expression tirar ojo. In Spanish, it means to throw a look or stare somebody down, as in the common English expression, “throw darts.” This term should not be confused with the even more folkloric term dar ojo, which means to put a spell on somebody through a bad look. We’ll cover that in the future. Meanwhile, tirar ojo is a belligerent stare meant to intimidate or communicate ill will. It’s almost like the haka dance of some New Zealand ruby teams, where the players stick out their tongues, bulge their eyes, and contort their faces to project revilement toward their foes. In Caló, that hate and revilement is projected solely through the eyes. You throw everything imaginable through your eyes, like darts, daggers, cinder blocks, or rabid monkeys. If you can’t menace, you have to at least be annoying.

Quique’s threat to “get” him after their fight never materialized, but the vato never let his guard down. Years passed. Sometimes almost a year would pass without any incident, then suddenly there was Quique tirando ojo to him.

The encounters were usually from a safe distance, from a passing car or the other side of a store window. But sometimes it happened in close quarters.

One time the vato took his boots to get re-soled, and the leather smith happened to be Quique. Nothing happened because Quique’s boss was at the counter, but out of the boss’ sight Quique sneered at the vato and motioned with his thumb that he was going slash the boots.

The vato reconsidered and told the shoe boss he’d wear the boots as they were a little longer.

A couple of years later, the vato stopped at the main intersection in the Southside and, when he looked to his right, saw Quique in the front passenger’s seat of the car in the next lane. Of course, Quique threw his ojos at the vato. The vato just looked at him with a blank face, like he always did. This time, however, Quique seemed more agitated than usual. He climbed part way out of the car window and scowled overtly at the vato.

The vato saw Quique’s ganga was with him. He thought this was the reason for such a show.

Then just before the traffic light turned green, Quique flashed a big Rambo-looking filero. The vato waited for Quique’s car to take off, but they waited for him to leave first. They idled there a long time. Finally somebody honked, and the vato peeled out through the intersection. Quique and his ganga followed.

“That’s it,” the vato said to himself as he drove into the closest parking lot.

He stopped, got out of his car, and waited for them. But they drove by.

“Annoying de amadres,” the vato thought.

“And that’s how it’s always gonna be.”

Oscar Rodriguez is the creator and host of Caló.