Week 97: What’s In A Name?

Friday, 8 November 2019

Reading time 2 minute 19 seconds 

All right Dave – Trigger

Telephone conversation;

“My names Mat, not Mark”
“I’m sure you said Mark”
“Why would I say that?”
“Maybe you made a mistake”

This has been a common occurrence over the phone for a long time now. It used to wind me up until I discovered I’ve been calling someone by the wrong name for over 20 years.

I’ve two godchildren. They’re OK. Children are like a good Whisky and improve with age. When they were much younger their mums mum would visit from Spain and I’d occasionally be asked to collect her from the airport.  

She is a little old Spanish lady, kind of cute but has the look of someone who would give a mugger a punch in their face if they tried anything and that includes a mean look. The woman has gravitas and emits a strange scary power in her tiny frame. Her English is as good as my Spanish, she could probably order a lager but not with a lemonade top.

I’d greet her in Spanish “Ola Abolita” and she would always look at me with such affection and love. 

The car journeys from the airport should have been frustrating for us both as we could not communicate as we had no translators with us but those trips were brilliant. The language barrier didn’t stop us talking to each other, it’s just stopped us understanding.

She would speak in Spanish for ages and I’d listen as it sounded beautiful and important and then I’d speak in English. After a while I confessed to her about my relationship insecurities and opened my heart and soul. I was vulnerable in front of a person like I’ve never been before or since and it didn’t matter, she couldn’t understand a word I said. It was so easy and freeing to talk to this incredible woman. I’d always leave the car feeling lighter in my soul than when I started. It was incredibly cathartic. 
As for her I always fantasised that as I was bearing the dark parts of my being, Abolita was also confessing. Could she be a serial killer of very bad people, or a secret vigilante at night protecting her Neighbourhood from ruffians? Either way she also looked as if a life burden was lifted when I dropped her off.

Abolita was a very Spanish name, my god children would call her that as well and I thought this a little new age but then there was always that kid at school that called their parents by their first name so I just rolled with it.

My god children are now my God Adults as time crept up on us all. One recently turned a quarter of a century and mentioned how Abolita speaks very highly of me and loves how I call her Abolita.  
Well that’s her name what else would I call her?  

Stifling giggles this 25 year old child who is becoming a great whisky taught me that Abolita translates as Grandmother.  
I argued that it couldn’t and I received the look that said “What do you know Mr. one language?”  
I continued to state my case that it can’t mean grandmother because I’ve been calling her that for over 20 years. Apparently a long enough time line does not make a wrong a right. Who knew!

I then enquired why no one in the family ever corrected me and was told they thought it was an East London thing that West London folk like them didn’t understand, and there was always that weird kid in School who called his parents by their first name and maybe I was one of them. 
I didn’t even call my own Grandmother or even Gran for that matter. I called her Nan because it was part of my social class. Grandmother was well above my family’s paygrade. 

A few years have now passed and Abolita is still Abolita. I’m an old dog who cannot be taught the new trick. She calls me Uncle Mat. I’m not even her real uncle but it’s still my name and I burst with pride hearing it from my Spanish Nan. 

If I’m to be murdered after the publication of this story then I assumed correctly and Abolita was using an in car confessional and even though it was clearly she what did me in, please forgive her as I’ve ratted her out in error and deserve my comeuppance. 

Photo: I was sent this by an old friend. I may have been a little bit tipsy, but only a little.