Attracted Like Ants to Syrup

Erasmo Calzadilla

Something comical, and at times pathetic, had been happening to a friend and me for some time.  Jose Forte, my partner in this story, was a member of our group of pretty much penniless guys who were rock lovers but with restless minds that were budding in the 1990s in the Havana municipality of Arroyo Naranjo.

Spiritual thirst led many of us crazies to enroll in social science programs offered at the University of Havana.  At the same time, to earn a couple of bucks we’d do any kind of work we might stumble on – as gravediggers, thieves, batboys, movie projectionists or whatever.

Forte was able to get a job as a projectionist, and though he began in beat-up movie houses in neighborhood cinemas, he worked his way up and is now employed at one of the most important theaters in the capital: La Rampa.

As the film runs through the projector he has time to study, so Forte took advantage of this to study history and theology.  He graduated in that first subject, while the second one led him into existential conflicts.

Since I too like to dabble in these subjects, every time we get together, especially on the bus ride home at night, we get wrapped up in interesting theological discussions that we’re never able to resolve.

As Forte speaks a little loudly, and everybody at the bus stop can hear what we’re talking about, what was happening in a recurrent and regular way is that an evangelist kept showing up to give us a sermon.  They are so predictable that it gave us a laugh to begin hearing his double talk as soon we appeared.  They seem attracted by the subject like ants to syrup.  Though we could barely contain our laughter, his monologue would soon begin.

Curiously, these proselytizers are always young guys, elegantly dressed (the last one was wearing three big gold rings), well-educated and demonstrating good manners.  However they come with “the truth,” and they talk, and talk, saying what they believe and never listening to anyone else.  They continually interrupt any real conversation and contribute nothing to it.

But Forte and I aren’t up for theology every day.  Politics sometimes monopolizes our attention.

One time at the house of a friend, whose father is in the military, we were talking about the need to change the constitution and reform the role of the National Assembly.

We were in one room, but Forte’s voice reverberated throughout the whole house.  Suddenly our friend’s father appeared unexpectedly to make it clear that in his house people weren’t allowed to talk such subversion.

This time there was no sermon…or laughter either.  We gathered our things and eased out as soon as we could while our friend got into an ugly argument with his dad.

And that’s all that I’ll say.  How long will it be until so much intolerance ends?

Erasmo Calzadilla

Erasmo Calzadilla: I find it difficult to introduce myself in public. I've tried many times but it doesn’t flow. I’m more less how I appear in my posts, add some unpresentable qualities and stir; that should do for a first approach. If you want to dig a little deeper, ask me for an appointment and wait for a reply.



One thought on “Attracted Like Ants to Syrup

  • “How long will it be until so much intolerance ends?” Don’t hold your breath, Erasmo! Don’t give up hope, either! I was once so cock-sure of myself, just like the evangelists on the bus, or your friend’s father, though in my case it was a more doctrinaire flavor of Marxism, rather than of Christianity. Now? I’ve become what I once contemptuously referred to as a “revisionist,” though such terms are increasingly irrelevant today. People are always capable of change. In fact, the gradual–or sudden–change in one’s basic worldview is one of the bases of good drama and novels.
    P.S. In person you don’t look like your foto, above. In the foto, you look like some sort of crazed poet, as if I immagined one of the principle charactes in Roberto Bolano’s “The Savage Detectives,” which I just finished reading a few days before I met you last month.

    Reply

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