Today was a languorous, leisurely day at work, and I couldn’t have been happier. It’s so springy and breezy and fresh outside, and all I wanted to do was walk around the campus of the beautiful hospital/university where I work, finish the book I’m reading, and let myself be windswept. Work probably would have seemed unremarkable to the unobservant eye, but I almost always manage to find at least one fascinating or charming detail in my daily comings and goings, one tiny glinting emerald in the immense field of grass. Today’s gem was the fact that I had not one, but two patients with the most curious of names: Narciso.
Narciso–what a name! Narcissus, naturally. Can you even imagine having this name? Or choosing it for your child? Or dating someone named Narciso? I sure can’t. I have never, ever, ever heard of anyone named Narcissus, but it looks like a few are out there. Would you just get used to the name over time? Yo, Narcissus! It doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. It would be like being named Pegasus or Sisyphus–who could really say your name without thinking of your mythological namesake? Any time you’d say your name, eyebrows would go up and then you’d have to quickly assure people that no, there’s no connection with, ahem, your infamous homonym. It’s pure coincidence that you have the exact same name as literature’s most well-known egomaniac. Desperate to prove that your name is just a name and nothing more, you don’t even have any mirrors in your house. You also take great pains to make sure you’re never spotted lingering around pools of water.
Once I saw that there was a patient named Narciso on my schedule, my curiosity was piqued. I couldn’t wait to meet him in order to see just what a Narciso looks like. It turned out, though, that he had arrived early, seen the doctor, and already left by the time I showed up. Drat! My one chance to meet a real live Narciso had been smashed to smithereens. Talk about an anticlimax.
I finished my morning appointments, went to the library and read, had lunch with a friend, and then was given a last-minute appointment in the afternoon. This patient was named José, and, long story short, I just so happened to find out that his full name was José Narciso. My jaw dropped. Narciso again? What were the odds? He told me that his mom had chosen his name from the calendar. Apparently, for each day of the year, there’s a different name. José was the name for the day he was born on, and Narciso was the name of the following day. As simple as that, as if he just as easily could have been named José Glotón or José Malandro if those pejoratives had appeared on that day instead. He knew the story of Narcissus, but he confessed that he wished that he was a little more like his tocayo who, as he understood it, was tall and handsome. Instead, he lamented, he was chaparro and feo. We had a good laugh about it. I told him that I’m sure his wife thinks he’s the most attractive man in the world and that the only thing that matters is that he’s perfect for her. It’s all about inner beauty, anyway–all the rest withers and fades. He didn’t know about the original Narcissus’ sordid treatment of poor Echo, so I gently broke it to him. Let me tell you, it’s not every day that I discuss Greek mythology with patients. Not even every week.
Ayyyyy . . . how I love my job. Once I move on, I’ll definitely look back and miss these exquisite moments of intimacy that I share with strangers day in and day out. I may be just squeaking by financially and not nearly as stimulated as I could be mentally, but I have to say that interpreting has been so nourishing for my soul and spirit this past year. I hope that you also had at least one moment–if not several–of delight, surprise, and fun at work today.