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The vato se vanqueteó


Órale, for April, we’re going to talk about how a vato unexpectedly went on a national talk-show tour. Simón, the vato le puso out of the Southside to toriquear on the top TV shows in the country cuz they wanted to hear who fregados he was and what he had to say. So the next four episodes will be about his desmadres on TV.

Pos then the featured Caló word in this first episode is vanquetear. It means to exalt oneself, as in exceed or vault over the ordinary. There’s no comparable term in Spanish or English. A close-homonym in Spanish is banqueta, which means sidewalk or walkable edge to a road—nothing close to exalt. In Romaní, there’s a near-synonym, barrequerar, which means to exaggerate. It could be vanquetear is a jumble of both words. Who knows. It could also be vanquetear is unique to Caló.

Two very different worlds crossed, and the result was that an ordinary vato from the Southside stole the show from the stars.

It was unlikely de amadres. The vato was sonseando on his way to the bule one Saturday afternoon when, he came upon a movie set and a big crowd milling around it and thought he’d linger and see what was happening.

Then suddenly a ruquillo came out and said, “OK we’re gonna do the first take for the street scene. Everybody go to the end of the block and walk by as if you’re minding your own business as the background to the main actors doing the romantic upset scene.”

The vato watched the crowd move to the end of the block. The ruquillo, who was directing, looked at him and said, “what are you waiting for?”

The vato looked surprised. The ruquillo looked angry.

“What’re you waiting for?” he shouted at the vato again.

So the vato quickly walked to where the crowd of extras was waiting to start the scene.

“Go!” the ruquillo said.

Everybody started walking, the cameras rolling on the main actors.

The vato fell in with the crowd strolling past the camaras. Then just as he was walking by, he looked over and saw the male star kissing the main woman star. The scene seemed uncanny, causing him to wince as he walked by. At the end of the block, he crossed the street, kept walking, and promptly forgot about the movie.

Many months later when the vato was hanging out with his compas (friends), a young man in a suit who said he was an agent for a morning talk show walked up to him.

“Everybody’s talking about you and that expression you made behind the climax scene. Wanna come talk about it on our show? We’ll pay you.”

“What movie, ese?” the vato asked.

“The one where you were an extra walking down the street,” the young man said.

“Órale. I wasn’t working, just walking,” the vato responded.

“Better! We wanna talk to you even before we invite the stars,” the young man said.

“Eee, te vanqueteaste!” one of his compas said.

“Órale. I’ll go,” the vato told the young man.

Oscar Rodriguez is the creator and host of Caló.