La corrida de un catre

When you’re at a loss in a conversation or while with a group of people, the eternal conundrum is whether or not you should say something and interrupt to beg for help or stay quiet so as to not derail the flow and everyone’s fun (and also to save your pride). Is mum really the word? I also hate to bug people, constantly forcing friends to be teachers. It is a little hopeless when you can’t understand a single thing being said around you; elucidation is much more likely when it’s just one key word or phrase that you can’t for the life of you wrap your mind around. Here’s a phrase that set my mind spinning for a few days in yesteryear.

I was with two friends, Antonio and Alba, at Alba’s house. This was when I lived in Bogotá. We were talking about another friend of ours, Leidy, when one of them said, Ella no se pierde la corrida de un catre. 


They explained to me what a catre is– a cot. Well, that didn’t help me a whit. They also explained what they were getting at– in so many words, Leidy was up for anything, very active, enthusiastic, pa’ las que sea (papá). I remained mystified. Confusing corrida with carrera (race), I thought: She doesn’t miss a race of cots. She’s so social that she’d even go to an event where different kinds of sleep accommodations race each other. Hmm. Then I thought of another possibility for perder: She doesn’t lose a race from a cot! Even if the poor girl is sick and cotridden, she will still find a way to win a race while prostrate. She’s that eager.  You’re all permitted to laugh hardily at my expense now. Go ahead–I swear I don’t mind. My most embarrassing stories are safely stored away in a fireproof safe, and they’re accompanying me to the grave.

Still, its real meaning escaped me. Enlightenment finally came, thank goodness, when I learned that correr can also mean to move something (like a chair), so corrida is just the noun form. Oh, and it doesn’t mean a race. So, taratarán, No se pierde (ni) la corrida de un catre means: You don’t miss the moving of a cot. That is, if one of your friends is scooting a cot from one side of the room to another, you are right there in the front row. You wouldn’t dream of missing such an exciting event. Nothing is too mundane to escape the honor of your presence, the most miniscule of events merit a party, and you’re incorrigibly keen as mustard. That is, you’re the complete opposite of me. I wouldn’t attend a cot repositioning if Gabriel García Márquez himself were inviting me. I’m more of a homebody, I guess.

Isn’t it great? No se pierde la corrida de un catre. What a wonderful phrase! I looked into it a little more, and it seems that it can be used to indicate that someone’s chismoso, gossipy, sticking their little nose into everything. Or you might just be a social butterfly. And I’m pretty sure it’s a Colombian phrase– it’s in the Bogotálogo, after all.

Making our way back to correr, I think this meaning of the verb is an awfully good one to know. Move something (over), pull something over, scoot something over.

Corre esa silla y te pongo al día.

Bring that chair over and I’ll catch you up on things.

¿Podemos correr la mesa un poco pa’lla? Estoy que casi no puedo respirar.

Can we scoot the table out a little? I almost can’t breathe here, it’s so close to me.

Correrse is also divinely useful for people and telling them to scoot over. A definite must-know for when you try to squeeze four people (or more) in the back of a taxi. And if you haven’t done this yet in Latin America, you’re not being social enough. (Yes, I know about the sexual meaning of correrse in Spain. It seems that it’s probably best to avoid it on the peninsula.)

Córrete pa’lla, vamos a estar un poco apretujados pero bueno. Falta poco para llegar a casa. 

Scoot over a bit. We’ll be a little squished, but oh well. We’ll be home soon.

Córrete pa’ca, apenas alcanzo a escucharte.

Scooch closer to me, I can barely hear you.

Two out of three tildes ain’t so bad… it’s hard to find memes with any.

A similar verb that I learned about only a few months ago is hacerse. I first heard it on a Yo soy Betty la fea episode. Then I heard it a few weeks ago when I was in Bogotá. This may mean everything; this may mean nothing. I’m still not exactly clear on how and when it’s used, so please shed some light if you can!

Niñas, niñas, se me hacen ahí y no me hagan tanta bulla.

Ladies, ladies, please stand over there and keep your voices down.

Hagámonos, así no nos mojamos mientras esperamos el bus.

Let’s move over there, that way we won’t get wet waiting for the bus.

Hazte a un lado, que no me dejas ver la tele. 

Move, you’re blocking the TV.

On the third to last page of García Márquez’ La hojarasca, I noticed hacer used transitively with this meaning. (Don’t pay any attention to my reading list–it’s hopefully behind the times.)

Rueda la silla, me toma de la mano y me hace a un lado para que puedan pasar los hombres . . . 

She pulls her chair, takes me by the hand, and tugs me aside so that the men can get by . . . (Gregory Rabassa’s translation)

What about you? Would you have understood that phrase if you’d heard it? How would you have understood it? What other colorful idioms have thrown you for a loop? Were you aware of these usages of correrse and hacerse? If you’re a native Spanish speaker, anything to correct, clarify, comment on or concur with? Can you give me any more examples with hacerse? What other verbs do you use for these actions?


9 responses to “La corrida de un catre

  1. As silly as it seems to me now, when I first encountered “ir a ningun lado” it gave me a similar bit of trouble. The full ad was “No podemos ir a ningun lado sin usted!” and I was thinking, “They can’t go to any side without me?” Needless to say, I did figure out that it just meant something more like “do anything.”

    Idioms are definitely one of the weirder language things to pick up, thanks for sharing this one!


  2. Jaja, bueno. No conocía la expresión “ni la corrida de un catre”. ¿Sabés a qué me hace acordar? A “caído del catre”, que significa un poco tonto o despistado. Yo soy un poco caído del catre, por ejemplo.

    En eso de “hacerse” estoy igual que vos, che. Ni idea. Lo que sí se usa es “hacerse a un lado”. Eso si se entiende, y hasta te diría que es un poquitito sofisticado acá.

    “Correr” en el sentido de “mover” es muy útil. sí.

    Ah, gracias por enseñarme “scoot over” y “scooch” (este último no está en mi dic, pero lo encontré en Internet).



    • Me alegra haberte enseñado una que otra cosa útil.

      Caído del catre, qué chévere! Según veo, es un argentismo. Ah, en Chile también se usa. Está en el wikcionario y todo :)


  3. More examples of hacerse? You can use it as “pretend to be” or something like that. Hacerse el dormido means pretend you are asleep. Hacerse el borraacho, pretend you are drunk. Or for a real colombianismo (maybe bogotanismo), hacerse el pendejo, which means pretend that you are a fool, that you don’t understand what’s going on, when in reality you know very well what’s happening and you are trying to obtain valuable information or some other advantage.

    I think there might be a typo in your writing. When you said, “Hagámonos, así no nos mojamos mientras esperamos el bus,” from your translation, I think it should be “hagamosnos allá, …” If you just say “hagamosnos,” the listener would be waiting for some other word(s) to understand what is going on (although in your example, the getting wet part will clarify). Also notice that I added and “s” to your conjugation: hagamosnos instead of hagamonos; here, you have a verb conjugated (hagamos, not hagamo), joined to a reflexive pronoun (nos), although it is common for people to say “hagamonos,” like you wrote. It makes it sound better (funnier) when you say it like that.

    Good piece. I loved it. BTW, in Colombia people don’t say “caído del catre,” they say “caido del zarzo.” I think “zarzo” refers to the space, in a house, between the ceiling and the roof.


    • Hi, thanks a lot for your helpful and encouraging comment on such an old post.

      I was already familiar with that usage of hacerse; it was just in the specific context of moving to one side that it was new to me. But, thanks for the examples.

      Yes, you are probably right– they probably did say hagámonos allá. I guess I just didn’t catch the tail end of it, though I’m not certain. Thanks!

      I happen to not agree with you regarding hagámosnos. Yes, that is technically right, but I have never heard it said that way, nor have I heard that specific verb conjugation said in that way for any verb. Perhaps it is a question of style.

      Thanks for the clarification on caído del catre. I had never heard it. And, yes, I learned caído del zarzo a few months ago from a Colombian TV show. Zarzo is an attic, I think. Thanks again :)


  4. Well, I checked and you are right. According to the RAE, there is an exception in this imperative form of the first person in plural: the “s” of nos is always dropped. So the s is dropped in hagamonos and all other imperatives of that form (more correctly, the exhortative subjunctive). One more thing I learned from you!

    I just remembered another funny usage of “hacer.” A few years back, my girlfriend was running a race in Colombia, and one of the spectators cheering on the sidelines yelled at her “hágale monita.” She, of course, came back to tell the story and we all had a good laugh.


  5. For me <> is more like an <> or something like that. In any case is perfectly aligned with RAE definitions :):

    1. m. Tejido de varas, cañas, mimbres o juncos, que forma una superficie plana.
    2. m. Cosa realizada con el zarzo.
    3. m. Col. desván.


    • Hi Carlos,

      Thanks for your comment. I’m just now dusting off and catching up with some very old comments. It looks like some of the words in your comment didn’t show up, though! And now you have me intrigued…


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