Caló: Then eat cuitcha

The word of the day is cuitcha, an alternative spelling is cuatcha. It means excrement and comes from the Comanche or Numunuu word for poop, cuita. Its etymology can also be traced to the Aztec or Nahuatl word cuitlatl. It’s been in the Caló lexicon for centuries.

By Oscar “El Marfa” Rodriguez

“If you know the truth, go with it,” Cuito advised young Boy. “Watchas?”

It wasn’t his first time giving this advice. He’d said the same for things like science, religion — all the big questions of the world, and also for his improbable name.

“How’d you get your name?” Boy once asked.

“My real name’s Harvey, but everybody’s always called me Cuito. Q-U-I-T-O. They once told me what it meant but I forgot,” said Cuito.

Many years later, Boy came back to the Southside and checked in on Cuito.

“Hey, guess where I just was?” he asked.

“New York. They say it’s really dangerous there,” answered Cuito.

“Nel, ese, in Quito,” Boy said, pronouncing the word like an Ecuadorian.

 “Where’s that?” Cuito asked.

“In Ecuador, between Peru and Colombia,” Boy explained.

“Quito’s the capital city. They spell it Q-U-I-T-O, but they pronounced it differently than you.

Cuito wasn’t interested. It was a pointless coincidence to him.

“You sure your name isn’t spelled with a C instead of a Q?” Boy asked.

“I’m sure it’s a C, not a Q. I just don’t say it in Spanish like they do.”

A while later, Boy met up with an Osage friend with whom he often talked about words.

“A word I’ve been wondering about is cuito,” Boy said.

“I wonder if it’s related to cuitcha or cuacha. Elders sometimes say it when you refuse food they’ve offered. They say, then eat cuitcha.”

“Hmmm, mighty close to the Comanche word for shit, but pronounced cuita,” the Osage said.

“Wow! That’s what they mean to say,” Boy exclaimed.

“I’ve often wondered if it’s related to cuitlacoche, which is Aztec for a mushroom, or flower that grows from bird poop.”

“Well, I just looked it up. Google says Comanche is Uto-Aztec,” the Osage said.

“I know a guy who’s gone by that name all his life without knowing what it means,” Boy said.

“I wonder if I should tell him.”

“Older or younger than you?” he asked Boy.

“Older,” Boy said.

“Then just leave it alone for his sake,” the Osage said.

Sometime later, Boy went back to see Cuito. He couldn’t resist asking him again how he spelled his name again.

Shhh. Like I’ve already told you, Q-U-I-T-O. I’ve had the nickname ever since a kid called me that in 4th grade,” said Cuito.

“Oh! Where was that kid from?” Boy asked.

“Deep in Mexico, like in the jungle,” Cuito said.

“The Comanches and Aztecs…,” Boy started to say, but let it go. 

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