Caló: I think it’s because they don’t like your ranfla, ese

Órale, ranfla is the featured word of this episode. It’s an endearing word for one’s car. Comparable words in English are jalopy and hot rod. It comes from the English word, Rambler, an old car brand that’s no longer around.

By Oscar “El Marfa” Rodriguez

“Hey, vato, let’s go cruising,” El Low Rider told his young cousin, Boy.

It was an early Sunday afternoon in April, sunny, breezy and cool. The two cousins had just finished the borgas they’d bought at the drive-in near the biggest intersection in the Southside.

Nobody else was at the drive-in when they arrived and even now that they were leaving.

“Eeee, I don’t have to be trucha about somebody scratching my paint,” said El Low Rider as he eased his shiny white 1964 Ford Comet coupe with white walls onto the main drag.

They cruised from one vuelta — turnaround — in the cruise route to the other without saying anything.

Boy hadn’t seen any of his friends cruising yet, but he’d notice a lot of cruisers staring at their car as if it was out of place.

At the next vuelta, a lowriding El Camino SS with four very young women crowded into it wove around them. They stared at the Comet as they passed. El Low Rider waved at them exaggeratedly.

Nobody waved back.

“Hey, I’m going to catch up with them,” said El Low Rider, picking up where he left off before he went to the pinta — prison — eighteen years earlier.

He quickly caught up with the El Camino and slowed his speed to stay side-by-side with it in the adjacent lane.

“Hey, what’s going on?” El Low Rider called out at the women. 

The women didn’t respond and stared straight ahead.

“Cool ride,” El Low Rider yelled obnoxiously.

The women didn’t try to evade him, but they avoided making eye contact with him.

El Low Rider eventually got the hint and backed off.

At the next traffic light, they stopped next to another car full of young women in a big grandma car.

Everybody in it turned to look at the Comet. El Low Rider rocked his head back and smiled widely at them, but only an elementary school-age girl reciprocated. A grandma at the wheel scowled back at him pointedly.

El Low Rider frowned.

“Que onda?  What’s up with all the ojo — evil eye — I’m getting?” asked El Low Rider.

“I think it’s because they don’t like your ranfla, ese,” said Boy.

“Chale. Everybody’s checking out my ranfla, but they don’t want to look at me,” complained El Low Rider.

“Probably cuz it’s too cool,” said Boy sarcastically. 

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