Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Conversation with Juan Carlos

On my recent trip to France I met Juan Carlos. Not the King of Spain, it turns out, or even a hidalgo, but a Spaniard all the same.

"I am Juan Carlos," he said enthusiastically, "from Madrid."

SeƱor Carlos had discovered me in Lourdes during an evening's
candlelight procession. I was one of a few dozen Americans in the mix who had been taking turns carrying our Ave Cor Mariae banner and waving little American flags.

"I see," I said to the smiling chap, trying to remember if I'd come across him when I'd been in Madrid three years earlier. But it was dark, and the fellow's English was poor, so I was having a tough time. "Did we meet in Madrid?"

"Yes, I am from Madrid," he smiled back at me.

"No, I meant, did we meet a few years ago when I was in Madrid?"

"Yes, Madrid."

I sighed.

He scribbled something on a piece of paper and then handed it to me. "This is my address and telephone number," he explained.

Bemused, I replied "Thank you."

Then he grabbed the flag out of my hand and said, "Now you write down your address and give it to me."

I grabbed the flag back and asked, "Have we met before?"

No, it turned out. But he'd seen me carrying the American flag, and had headed my way so that he could make contact.

"I am a theology student," he explained. "I want to meet Americans who can introduce me to Mel Gibson so that I can help him make movies."

I broke the news to my quixotic acquaintance that Mel lived in California, while I hailed from Atlanta, which is actually closer to New York. "I'm afraid I don't know Mel," I said.

"Well, now you have a friend in Madrid!" Juan Carlos said with a smile as he waved and disappeared into the crowd.

Cervantes, eat your heart out.

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