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Why’s he so muino?


Órale, today’s featured word is muino. It means to be fidgety or restless. The general idea that’s communicated when it’s said that somebody is muino is that of a teething inconsolable child with itchy, achy gums. The word comes from Iberian Romani’s word for mouth, muí. Of course, muino can also refer to unsettled adults and adolescent children, not just babies who are teething. An agitated adult can be as muino as a child whose teeth are coming in.

Flaco, Boy’s older brother, walked back and forth across the dance floor all night at the wedding reception. Crowded in the middle of a set or empty during intermission, Flaco could be seen walking hurriedly from one end to the other unaccompanied.

“Qué onda with Flaco going back and forth all night,” Chabelita, Boy’s neighbor asked out loud so everybody at her table could hear.

“Ya, been quite muino all night,” Chabelita answered herself.

“Simón, he hasn’t even come sit with us although we’re holding a seat for him,” said Boy.

“I bet it’s about a girl,” said an older cousin, a woman in cowboy boots sitting at their table.

“Pos, he hasn’t danced all night,” a young uncle, slightly older than Boy, said.

“Soon he won’t have to worry about dancing anymore. Qué no it’s almost midnight and one more set to go?” said another, older uncle.

“Wave him over so we can ask him why he’s been so muino,” the cowgirl cousin said.

“Hey, Flaco, come over here, vato,” the young uncle waved and yelled at Flaco.

Flaco walked over to their table.

“What’re you doing walking back and forth all night?" the young uncle asked.

Flaco looked at everybody at the table.

“We’re holding a seat for you, ese,” the woman cousin said.

“Oh, thanks, but I don’t want to sit down. I’m going to ask a girl to dance,” said Flaco.

“Pos, what are you waiting for?" asked the young uncle.

“Cuz she’s been dancing,” replied Flaco.

“So you’re getting set for after intermission?” said Boy.

“Sirol. Giving her space. Now I’m gonna get in place,” Flaco said.

And he was off again, this time towards a table where a middle-aged wife and husband team were watching over a large group of young women.

Flaco stopped just short of the table and waited for the band to get going again.

The music started up again after a while.

Flaco let the set warm up. He let a polka go by. Then a Ranchera. Then a cumbia. Meanwhile, a few stags approached the table and took out some of the women to dance.

Everybody at Boy’s table looked on with curiosity.

“They’re going to beat him to his girl if he just stands there,” said the young uncle at the table.

Flaco finally went in when a slow song started up.

Everybody saw him extend and keep out his hand a long time. But the girl turned him down.

“Eeee, que gatcho,” said the cowgirl.

“Bueno, maybe that’ll cut the muino,” said the older uncle.

Oscar Rodriguez is the creator and host of Caló.