Friday, April 22, 2011

Language: Pierdes si caramboleas-the jargon of playing con canicas

I do remember sticking out your tongue helped you focus, but I don't remember the manicured lawns.

Growing up in the South Texas in the days before air conditioning was commonplace meant that you had to play outside a lot of the time. One of the classic outdoor games in Laredo before the X-Box epidemic, actually wayyy before, was "canicas" or marbles. What made canicas such an interesting game was that it had a language or better said, a jargon, all of its own.

"Pierdes si caramboleas" was a common phrase that we would yell out as kids whenever someone was getting ready to shoot their favorite "shurito" (I've never had to spell it before). El "shurito" was your favorite shooting marble, the one you could shoot not only the fastest, but the most accurate. The object of the game of "la ruedita" (a circle carved into the dirt) was to declare what marble you were about to force out the circle and claim for yourself.  If you hit and knocked out any other marble(s) by accident, you were "caramboleando" and would loose your turn. I'm not so sure of what the rules were anymore to be honest with you. What I do remember is that there was never any shortage of dirt yards in the barrios long before the days of paved streets, sidewalks and zacate.

Here's some of the other terms associated with canicas that I remember. I'm sure there's probably many more. Sometimes, even within Laredo, different barrios had different names for the same things:

Canicon          Was a heavy-duty, huge marble that could do a lot of damage
El Posito         A game in which four shallow holes, each one-a corner of a square
No rondis       Calling this disallow the shooter from getting a better angle by going around
No limpis        Saying this would prohibit the shooter from cleaning his shooting path
No subis         This would let the shooter know he could not lift his hand (subir) to shoot

It's unfortunate that the vast majority of today's kids hardly venture outside. Instead, many spend hours upon hours in a mesmerized state, submitting to the power of digitilization. Tan-tan-tan-tan!!

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