Caló: Día del Cocono

Órale, the word ‘cóncono’ is the word we’re exploring this episode. Cócono means turkey. It’s an onomatopoeia, a word that sounds like the object being communicated. It’s also Nahuatl, the language Aztecs speak. 

By Oscar “El Marfa” Rodriguez

Thanksgiving Day in the land of Caló is a work holiday. It’s also a school break. For Boy, it meant a week in OJ.

“You stay here and you’ll end up like all your friends, brutos — brutish — and creidos, conceited,” Boy’s mom told Boy when she dropped him off at the bus station the Monday before Thanksgiving Day.

It was an old routine, so much so that he didn’t even pack clothes anymore. There was a set waiting for him in OJ.

Five hours later he was in OJ and cruising the plaza.

“You back, Boy?” asked his older cousin Nemo as he leaned against his big Buick taxi.

“Sirol, primo,” said Boy.

Boy kept circling the plaza knowing he would eventually settle at the comic book and magazine rental stand.

Before he made a full circle, he regretted he hadn’t settled earlier. His cousin Oscar from Chihuahua had spotted him.

“Que hubo, naranjas o melones — what’s up, nothing or something for me?” said Oscar.

“Naranjas,” said Boy.

“What are you doing here? You’re not in school?” asked Oscar.

“Nel, simón — no, yes. Here on school break,” said Boy.

“Ah, right, Día del Pavo,” said Oscar.

Boy didn’t respond. It didn’t matter. Oscar would take it as a correction either way.

“We’re going to cook a pavo, tomorrow. You should come,” said Oscar.

“You eat pavos? What do you do with the feathers?” asked Boy.

Oscar paused to check if his cousin was pulling his leg. 

“You mean pavo real, a peacock. Not the same thing. Pavo is the proper word for the bird you eat. Cócono is provincial. Even huajolote is more proper, what they use in the center, Mexico City,” explained Oscar.

“Órale. But why are you cooking it on Sunday?” asked Boy.
“Pos, why not?” asked Oscar.

“They cook them on Thursday on the other side,” said Boy.

“Same thing. The celebration is the whole week,” argued Oscar.

“And what do they do in the center?” asked Boy.

“Same thing,” answered Oscar.

“They cook cóconos in Mexico City too?” asked Boy.

“Claro, but they call them pavos,” said Oscar

“Wow! Squanto would be surprised,” said Boy.

“What?” said Oscar confused.

“Do you know why they cook pavos or cóconos on the last week of November?” asked Boy.

“No, only that the Americanos call it Día del Pavo,” said Oscar.

“They call it Día de Gracias, Thanksgiving Day,” said Boy.

“Pos, sí. They give gracias by eating a pavo. The symbol of abundance. Only difference is they take the whole week off and here it’s not a holiday,” said Oscar.

“Tomorrow Sunday?” asked Boy.

“Sí, come by. My grandma will love to see you,” said Oscar.

“Con stuffing and cranberry?” asked Boy.

“No, just rice, maybe salad like you’re used to,” said Oscar.

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