Viva Juan Carlos

by Jay Nordlinger

Among the items in Impromptus today is one on Juan Carlos, the late king of Spain — or rather, the recently abdicated king. Yes, he helped his country establish democracy, and keep it. But remember the time he told Hugo Chávez to shut up? That was thrilling.

“Por qué no te callas?” he told the tiresome, mouthy strongman. “Why don’t you shut up?” To see the great and historic moment, go here.

Judging by my mail, there are many Juan Carlos fans in our readership. Certainly many fans of his instruction to Chávez. One reader writes,

Howdy, Jay. It’s hard to argue with the success of Juan Carlos’s statement. It resulted in a ringtone, T-shirts, etc. But I must confess mild disappointment that the king did not use the more colorful phrase “Cierra el pico.” While this translates roughly to “Shut up,” the literal-ish translation adds a special gravy: “Shut the/your beak/bill.”

In this sense, it is more akin, spiritually, to “Zip your grocery hole” or, à la Mel from Alice, “Stow it, Dingy.”

“Zip your grocery hole”? I wish I had someone to use that on, right now. Might have to wander the streets, looking for an occasion.

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