I really hate the name Keith. It’s clunky, misspelled, makes your tongue misbehave, and has all the sex appeal of the Ganges River on washing day. In other words, it’s not a head-turner of a name.
Now: Compare and contrast my white-bread, flatbread name to a dude like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, whose full name is Gabriel José de la Concordia García Márquez! How freakin’ cool is that?
Which reminds me, I recently saw a documentary where Fidel Castro was talking to Gabriel Garcia Marquez (GGM) on one of his frequent visits to Cuba. They are talking at Fidel’s grandmother’s house. I had a grandmother once. Two, actually. One was named Fannie Mae, the other Freddie Mac. Just kidding. The other was named Elizabeth Grace. Neither met Fidel or GGM, but both of them had names that were much cooler than Keith.
Look at this photo: If I were GGM, I’d bitch-slap Fidel right then and there. Or better yet, crack the man’s psychotic skull for corrupting such a good culture.
But I can’t. Because I’m not there. And because, unlike Gabriel Garcia Marquez, I don’t have a sexy name or a Nobel Prize in Literature.
Speaking of literature, did you know Cuba has 100% literary. They also have universal health care. Pretty good, right? Of course, this didn’t happen overnight. First, Fidel had to purge his nation of anyone with an education: democrats, activists, artists, doctors, engineers. IF they dared to speak up in 1959 or 1960, even if they were social democrats, they were sent “to the wall” during the bloodbath purges. Fidel and his cohorts shot people with sickening abandon, while sending the rest scrambling to Miami, something I wouldn’t wish on my own worst enemy.
And then there was Fidel’s fugly sidekick, Che, a devout Marxist who sat in a mansion near Havana Harbor and watched executions while feasting on roast chicken and fruit. This is a dude whose image is plastered on T-shirts all over the friggin’ world. Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot? People don’t walk around with pictures of Adolf Eichmann or Timothy McVeigh slapped across their chest, do they? Why “Che“? He was a goddamned doctor — so much for “do no harm”, huh — who watched innocent people get riddled with bullets from firing squads whose members where not even allowed the mercy rule of blanks!
Well, despite all this sorry-ass history, I still want to visit Cuba one day because the Cuban people are not a reflection of the cruelty of their leaders, like Fidel’s predecessor, Fulgencio Batista, who had his secret police yank out the teeth of prisoners with wire pliers.
Have I drifted off into the sagebrush again? If so, there’s a reason: It’s the silly season here in America (presidential election year), and Cuba (like Russia and Germany and countless other nations) is yet another example a country yanked from one political pole to the other, from the brutality of the extreme right to the sadism of the extreme left.
But I want to get above this. Literally. When that “imprisoned island” opens and its people are free, I want to be there. I want to be there when the kind, friendly, yanqui-loving Cubans are free to speak, free to write, free to worship, free to trade. But I don’t really want to be in the heart of old Havaña. I want to be far, far away from museums or the tourist-trampled beaches at Varadero. Instead, I want to be hiking through the Sierra Maestra, the mountains of the island’s southeastern foot.
Why? It’s all in my name.
Keith means “woods”, the name being influenced by the Welsh “coedwig”, which means forest. And whether it’s karma, cosmic, or sheer coincidence, I love the woods.
So, when I am finally able to travel to the former “playground of America” I want to footslog the rustic trails from Our Lady of Charity, with a backpack slung over my shoulder, hiking stick in hand, and find myself on an outcropping of rock overlooking San Francisco de Cuba, and drink a cold cervaza, and take in the breathless beauty of its ancient neoclassical and baroque architecture.
So, what’s in a name? Well, look at this: This is a photo of San Pedro de la Roca that I’d be able to see from my perch in the hills.
Or this one:
It’s called Castello Santiago de Cuba!
I mean, is that hip, or what?!
I wish I had a castle. They say a man’s home is his castle. Do you know what they call my castle?
Talk about being born with a name that is about as exciting as a bag of wet cement. When you name your characters, real or imagined, good guys or bad guys, you’d be well-served to give them really cool names.
Pax from (*sigh*) Keith
Copyright © 2012, Alan Keith Parker. All Rights Reserved. The term "imprisoned island" first made famous by U.S. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy on Oct 22, 1962. He's another guy with a cool name.