Editor’s Note: This story is part of a collection of work by Xochitl Gonzalez that was the finalist for the 2023 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary.

When my friends and I were younger and would while away the hours gossiping about who was dating whom, we would play a game we called Sucio o no sucio? Sucio, as a word, translates into “dirty,” but as a slang expression it has no precise translation in English—which is probably why it routinely peppers Latino conversations, even when they aren’t transpiring in Spanish.

A sucio (or sucia, in the feminine) is someone of moral ill-repute, in a lecherous or greedy manner. So an old conversation might have followed:

“Did you hear that Isabel got engaged to Victor?”

Really? Because Victor was trying to get my roommate’s phone number at the party last night. You should have seen the way he was looking at her!”

To which all gathered would say, “Sucio!”

Or, “You remember how Laura had that consulting gig where she was always going to London? Turns out she has a whole other relationship there and Tracy never knew.” To which someone else would reply, “Laura’s always been a sucia—remember when Tracy caught her cheating way back when? What did she expect?”

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