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Worldwide Ace » Fired, Toasted, and Burnt

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Fired, Toasted, and Burnt

6 July, 2008 (23:35) | Travelogue


The Santos Kiluus shrine sits abandoned off a back road late at night.
For more religious images from Guam, click here.

It wasn’t by choice that I’ve received most of my nicknames.

There were five other Bens in my grade in elementary school, three of which played on the soccer team. When I was dubbed goalie for the first time in my life, much to my dismay, the other Bens nicknamed me Andy after Bruins goalie Andy Moog. I now know it was a complement being compared to the Bruins great, but I knew nothing of hockey at the time.

At summer camp, the older boys called me George. For a while, I hated the name without a reason because of the Looney Tunes style they said it with. Eventually, I was told I looked like a kid named George who had spread shit on the walls of his room the year before. When I finally saw a picture, George was tiny Asian kid who looked nothing like me. I kicked the shit out of my roommate (who was 3 grades above me), scratching his face, and getting the nickname Wolverine in the process. Even the older kids were afraid to call me George after that.

There have always been the Ben variations, though none of them have really stuck: Benny, Benihana, Bennifer, Benji, Bengay, etc.

In high school, I came back from my trip to Europe sporting side burns and was dubbed Belvis (Ben + Elvis) by my friends. I hated it at first but got used to it eventually. This led to Belvito, the Belvinator, and other variations. And, upon my return from college with the beard, the dubbing of Bunak (Ben + Tunak) due to my resemblance to a different musician.

At the JCC, I was called Rodman, since I dyed my hair and rebounded like a freak during Saturday basketball pickup games. On the lacrosse team, I was called Robocop, a combination of my last name and the fact that balls careened off me with regularity in goal.

When I grew out the Jew fro the first time, Zak followed up Bunak and Belvis by dubbing me Bel Biv deFro. Throughout college, that was the only new nickname I gained, and it was rarely employed.

During my time in Philippines, it was hard not to stand out as the big white guy. Add in the beard and the crazy hair and it’s really no surprise Jhoan dubbed me Santo Nino, or Baby Jesus. It wasn’t long before our entire troupe was referring to me as Jesus. I didn’t care much for it at first, but I can’t be annoyed by a nickname used lovingly and with humor.

Since my arrival in Guam, my nickname of Jesus has found security with the people here. Meanwhile, the other Ben has been dubbed Nosedive (since he took a drunk header our first night back). I seem to have gotten the better half, I think. And the Jesus jokes never seem to cease to grow old to anyone but me. I do find them funny most of the time, but it sometimes gets uncomfortable when they’re pushed a little too far. I may not believe in a god, but that doesn’t mean I want to frivolously tromp on others’ beliefs.

Perhaps the nickname is all the more ironic thanks to the light sunburn on my head demarcating devil’s horns. Despite wearing a rash guard and putting on plenty of sunscreen before snorkeling today, I apparently missed just the right spots on my upper forehead to leave horns solidly pink.

Tonight, we were invited to have dinner at Carl’s place with his roommate Matt (the same Carl who woke me up with his motorcycle yesterday). After snorkeling and changing the brake pads on the car (though I merely watched as Anthony did all the work), I had worked up an appetite.

Carl is quite the gourmet, and he prepared multiple marinades for steak and a slow roast pork shoulder in a garlic wine sauce while his roommate Matt prepared a wonderful tarragon sauce for roasted onions. The food looked exquisite, and while we waited for the grill to finish up, we hooked up Carl’s new TV and set up Guitar Hero 80s edition.

Denise and I wandered down the road to a local shrine (Santos Kiluus). There was a single candle in the shrine and a street lamp just outside, though it was hardly enough light to see by. Despite the darkness, several pictures came out well.

By the time we got back, the boys had burnt the steak and onions, though some parts were salvageable (and delicious).

“What was I supposed to do?” asked Carl with a smile. “Jesus had abandoned us.”

“What can I say,” I replied. “I’ve got a narcissistic streak.”

We chowed down heartily on the most succulent pork I’ve ever had while enjoying the remains of the rest of dinner as a side dish. Surprisingly, we were all pretty beat by the time the clock struck nine, so we thanked our gracious hosts and headed on our way.

In all, it was a wonderful Sunday in Guam. And that made all the difference.

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  • Van

    I think I prefer Santa Claus to Jesus (I’ve gotten both). Though Rip Van Winkle is probably the celebrity reference I like the best. My current favorite nickname (used exclusively by a cute bartender at Hapa) is Vanimal.

    Of course, I suspect that Santa is really Odin in disguise.

  • Van

    I think I prefer Santa Claus to Jesus (I’ve gotten both). Though Rip Van Winkle is probably the celebrity reference I like the best. My current favorite nickname (used exclusively by a cute bartender at Hapa) is Vanimal.

    Of course, I suspect that Santa is really Odin in disguise.

  • Jess

    I think that Walter should stick
    You really do have a SLIGHT resemblance to John Goodman. Or maybe by the time you get back you won’t, since you’re losing weight like a madman.

  • Jess

    I think that Walter should stick
    You really do have a SLIGHT resemblance to John Goodman. Or maybe by the time you get back you won’t, since you’re losing weight like a madman.

  • Your ambient lighted photograph of the small wayside chapel is a strongly evocative image. I returned to the picture several times. It leaves me pondering what this place is, who made it, who uses it and under what circumstances.

    Santos Kilu’us. Chamorro is one of those interesting languages which seem to have adopted words from everyone who ever passed through the Marianas. “Santos Kilu’us” is Chamorro for the saints’ cross. Santos is clearly adopted from the Spanish but I am not sure of the origin of kilu’us. It sounds similar to the English word “cross” — but with the rhotic r-sound morphed into l. (Of course, the Castillian Spanish would pronouce the z in “cruz” more like a th sound and not as the English buzz, so the Spanish connection may be there.)

    Language and religion spread on the tradewinds.

  • Anonymous

    Your ambient lighted photograph of the small wayside chapel is a strongly evocative image. I returned to the picture several times. It leaves me pondering what this place is, who made it, who uses it and under what circumstances.

    Santos Kilu’us. Chamorro is one of those interesting languages which seem to have adopted words from everyone who ever passed through the Marianas. “Santos Kilu’us” is Chamorro for the saints’ cross. Santos is clearly adopted from the Spanish but I am not sure of the origin of kilu’us. It sounds similar to the English word “cross” — but with the rhotic r-sound morphed into l. (Of course, the Castillian Spanish would pronouce the z in “cruz” more like a th sound and not as the English buzz, so the Spanish connection may be there.)

    Language and religion spread on the tradewinds.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been informed by Denise that Chamorro has a strange pronunciation key. Unlike other languages, accents denote a lower pitch and less of an emphasis, though I’m still unsure how it works.

  • I’ve been informed by Denise that Chamorro has a strange pronunciation key. Unlike other languages, accents denote a lower pitch and less of an emphasis, though I’m still unsure how it works.