“You see,” he told me one day when I had inadvertently called him Ernest for the second or third time, “Ernests abound.”
I waited for him to continue with this thought, but I guess he felt that enough had been said. I settled back into my own meditations. How could the huge stones of the pyramids be brought to the Giza Plateau on wooden rollers if there were no trees to make the wooden rollers from?
“Ernesto, on the other hand, defies convention. It is a celebratory name, even heroic.”
“Excuse me?” I replied, startled from my reverie by this new concept.
“I said that Ernesto is a name filled with drama, an epic name. A conquistador might be named Ernesto,” he said with a faraway look, sort of like a senior class picture.
“Well, Che Guevara’s real name was Ernesto. I guess it could have held him back if everyone had called him Ernest,” I replied, thinking I had finally caught his drift.
“My point exactly! A name fit for a conquistador, or a revolutionary!” he responded with a slight accent I had never noticed before.
“But Guevara was a Latino. He was born in Argentina. You have red hair.”
“There were conquistadors with red hair,” he answered with some dignity, his accent becoming more pronounced.
“Well, maybe. But there’s nothing wrong with the name Ernest. Hemingway didn’t do too bad with it,” I countered.
“Si. Si. That’s why he had everyone call him Papa!” he shouted, his sudden Spanish accent becoming nearly impenetrable.
“Okay, okay. Well what about Ernest Borgnine then?”
“You mean the guy on McHales Navy? You would compare him to a conquistador? He’s fat!” he screamed, his Rs rolling uncontrollably.
“You aren’t exactly skinny. Anyway, Borgnine did a lot more than McHales Navy. He won the Oscar for Marty. He was in all sorts of great movies.”
“Si, si. And this Señor Marty, what was his, how you say, job, in this movie, eh? Que? Que?”
“He was a butcher.”
“Aha! And you would have the cajones to compare a butcher to a conquistador?” he thundered.
“Do you want to deliver this pizza, or do you want me to do it?”
“You go ahead, Ernesto.”
© 2002 Kona Lowell