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Le hubo for El Pichirilo


Órale, the feature for this last episode about El Pichirilo is the expression le hubo. It’s abbreviated Spanish for it just was or just happened. In Caló, it means the end of whatever was being talked about. If the topic is a movie, then le hubo refers to the climax. If you’re talking about a low tank of gas, le hubo means you finally burned the last drop. If it’s about somebody’s life, then le hubo refers to death. And so on and so forth. The expression is related to the term la voy hacer (I’m gonna do it), except that it’s already done. It’s the phase that comes after you’ve announced that you’re leaving or disengaging.

El Pichirilo was 30 years old when le hubo, and of course it took a lot of drama and an epic event to get it there.

Le hubo came to the pichirilo on a beautiful Sundary afternoon at the sandhills. The vato had driven there to party with his cauches (friends). He spent the day in the sun surfing the dunes. When he finally decided to hacerla, a pile of friends asked to go with him.

“Órale, but be careful with the upholstery and body paint, cuz as you know my ramfla has never had a scratch,” the vato admonished his friends.

Indeed the pichirilo had never been dented or scratched, neither on the inside nor outside. All its equipment was still original. Although it had its famous quirks and faults, it still didn’t burn oil and shifted quietly from gear to gear. But for its age, it was a handsome and popular car, and the vato was quite proud of it.

As they were going down the highway back to the Southside with the radio volume on high, they came upon a traffic jam, where traffic had come to a halt.

Then just before they came to a complete stop, a big cargo truck barreled into them without braking. The pichirilo, because it was an old model ramfla made of a thick metal body and frame, absorbed the impact and shielded its passengers. But the momentum of the truck drove the pichirilo from the rear of the stalled line to the middle, shoving cars out of the way like a snow plow clears four inches of snow from the road surface.

The vato and everybody else in the ’49 Buick Chieftain saw what was happening in slow motion. They crashed into car after car, their cab compressing around them with every collision. When they finally came to a stop, the big truck ended up on top of them, and the pichirilo had contracted so compactly that they were squinched in tightly against each other.

As they became aware of what had happened, they noticed the radio was playing an oldie by Sunny Ozuna.

“Talk to me. Talk to me. I love the things you say. Talk to me. Talk to me in your own gentle way….”

It took hours for them to be freed from the wreckage.

“Ya le hubo to El Pichirilo,” the vato said when they were all finally out and his ramfla was being hauled away, radio still playing.

Oscar Rodriguez is the creator and host of Caló.