Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What If Jesus Met Lenin and Socrates?

I'm forever running into Jesus down here. Not the biblical one, of course, but Jesus Gonzalez, Jesus Ortega, Jesus Martinez, Jesus Ruiz. It's as common a man's name as "Bill" and "Jack" are back home. Still, it's a bit unnerving when your waiter comes over to your table in a restaurant and says, "Hola, amigos! My name is Jesus, and I'll be your server tonight. Can I get you a cocktail to start?" My point: Jesus wouldn't say that. It's weird.

I was thinking of the old Walter Cronkite series "You Were There" back in the 60s and 70s. For those of you too young for such memories, it was a video series in which CBS News reporters went back and "interviewed" important personages from history. Maybe it was that series or maybe it was an essay I read somewhere, but I recall the fictional exercise of bringing together a number of figures from distinct historical time periods. Wouldn't it be fun to see what they'd have to say to one another?

In Mexico, it's common to name your kid after someone famous in history. For example, at the Casa Hogar, NiƱos de la Luna shelter where I volunteer (kids of prostitutes), one of the little kiddies, about 3 years old, is named "Lenin." Not like Beatles' John, but like the Russia kind (communism and socialism still have there adherents here). So the other day, Lenin was crying his head off and I asked the lady what was wrong with him. "Lenin has wet his pants," was her reply. Just try to comprehend that without giggling.

And then last Wednesday, I went to a chamber music concert at Teatro Juarez. Very nice. The principal violinist was Socrates Urbieta. His brother plays violin in the group, too. His name is Ulysses Urbieta. Their mom must have had a thing for Greek men. Anyway, just so you know.....Socrates plays a mean violin. Do you think he'll ever meet Jesus and Lenin?