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Pura raqueta


Órale, the featured Caló word this week is raquetero. It means a dishonest raconteur, somebody who tells fantastical stories with the aim of actually deceiving their listeners. To raquetear is a talent, and in the past when there were no movies or other avenues for entertainment, raqueteros were in demand. And they would spin seemingly endless yarns, sometimes funny and sometimes merely exhilarating, but only believable enough to keep everybody’s attention. But after they went out of fashion, the raqueteros turned their talent to intrigue, gossip and conspiratorialism, just telling stories to disrupt the order of things. The mediocre ones merely annoyed everybody. The best ones cause major chaos without anybody knowing they’re doing it. Who hates a raquetero the most? Another raquetero.

When the vato came home after his second national TV talk show interview, things were different. His fame had won him new friends, but it put him off that he was now seen as a raquetero.

“Eeee, vato. You really fooled’em. They thought you were serious but you were just cabuleando,” a ruca he didn’t know told him as he cruised by her on the vuelta.

“When are they gonna make a movie about you, ese?” somebody said at the store checkout.

“Hey, no you’re doing a movie right now? Where’s the hidden camera?” his cousin joked at a family gathering.

The vato knew he had to do something.

So he embraced his new identity as a raquetero.

“I was going to Hollywood tomorrow, but not anymore,” he announced one day to his friends and family.

“They want me to play Superman’s sidekick.”

“Really?” they asked him.

“Simón. I turned it down cuz I never want to play a mamón cuz that’s what sidekicks do.”

“Plus they didn’t offer much money for it.”

“What did they offer,” they asked.

“A million,” the vato said.

“Pos you’re pendejo to not take it,” the cousin that most joked about him said.

“Well, if you want, I’ll tell’em to take you, ese,” the vato said.

“Simón!” his cousin said.

“Órale. I’ll give’em your number. But you better go home right away and wait for a call, cuz they act fast,” the vato said.

“De aquellas,” his cousin said and promptly left the gathering to go sit by his house phone.

Days later, the vato went to another family gathering and quietly noted his cousin’s absence.

“Anybody seen the primo,” somebody in the crowd asked.

“Chale. Not for a long time,” a young woman said.

“Pos I hear he’s working on proposing to a ruca,” the vato said.

“What ruca?” the woman asked.

“I think from OJ,” the vato said.

“That ruca who dyed her hair platinum?” she asked.

“Chansa,” the vato said.

“Big mistake,” she said.

“I told him, but he said he doesn’t like the rucas from here,” the vato said.

“Pos I’m gonna catear him when I see him,” she said.

“A better plan is to get somebody to call him and say they’re an agent for a movie company that’s looking for him. That he’s wanted in Hollywood right away,” the vato said.

“And if he goes for it?” she asked.

“Pos then ask him if he liked the raqueta in Hollywood,” said the vato.

Oscar Rodriguez is the creator and host of Caló.