Órale, the Caló word of today is sonsear. It’s a verb meaning to act dumb or wonder about aimlessly. It comes from the Iberian adjective zonzo, or sonso. It means insolent, dumb-acting or impish. In Caló, sonsear is a verb that describes the act of going through life not reflecting on what’s going on around you, as if you’re just taking things as they come without thinking critically about what you’re experiencing. Under certain circumstances, it also means to explore, go on an adventure with no particular aim or destination in mind — just sonseando until you get somewhere.
Titi and Cuito came up to Boy as he had just been handed his high school diploma and put their hands on his shoulders.
“What you going to do now?” they asked in unison.
Boy was a surprised the old lady and old man had gotten through the crowd and were suddenly upon him.
“Pos, probably work this summer then go to college,” said Boy.
“More school?” asked Cuito.
“Sirol. But in a different place. Far from here. You haven’t heard?” said Boy.
“We heard you’re leaving. We thought you were just going to go sonsear. You can do that anywhere. In the oil fields. In the migrant farmworker camps. Anywhere,” said Titi.
“But not in school. You’ll flunk out y ya. You won’t see anything,” said Cuito.
“Pos maybe if I flunk out, I’ll start sonseando,” said Boy, a little nervous these elders wanted to talk about his future right there and then.
“Ya. Maybe you’re going to sonsear at this college, or whatever,” said Titi.
“No, it’s just more school?” said Cuito.
“But maybe if it’s in a different part of the world…,” said Titi.
Boy had lost the thread of the conversation. Titi could see it.
“We just want to say goodbye before you go off,” she said.
“But I’m not leaving until August,” said Boy.
“But you’re probably gonna start right away and not stop until you come back home for good,” said Cuito.
“If you come back,” interrupted Titi.
“Come back. Go sonsear. And when you’re filled up with seeing the world, drop it and come back. Maybe we’ll still be here when you do.”
“Uhuh. Don’t let them change you,” said Cuito.
“We both went out and got burned. I came back as a cowboy. Titi as a church lady. Just sonseando. Took us a while to figure out how to drop it. Now here we are. And we’re telling you to watch out and come back.”
With that, the two left Boy standing alone. He was now so disoriented that he forgot where his seat was in the assembly. It was as if they had opened a door and shown him a secret way out.
He asked himself if he was not already sonseando, on a quest to look for something he did not know yet. And if he found it, then what?
“I guess I’m already sonseando,” Boy told himself as he walked in the opposite direction of where his classmates were sitting.