A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


My Father, Epicene Names - No Saint At Luján
Saturday, June 14, 2008

I was with my father for 11 years. I remember few of them as he left home when I was 9 and I only saw him on some weekends. Then when I was 20 I returned to Buenos Aires from Mexico. I had told my mother that I felt patriotic and that I had to serve my country. That's how I ended up as a conscript for the Argentine navy for two years. I never told her that the real reason was that I wanted to find my father. It took a while and I found him. We spent about five month's worth of Sundays before he died. Of these conversations I remember next to nothing. I have always thought I had a good memory but somehow the sinapses here have failed me. Answers to questions which I should have asked have remained unanswered because I never asked them. There is nobody alive now that could answer them for me.

Sometime in 1951, when I was 9 I asked my father, "Your favorite books on your book shelf are by Leslie Charteris. Why do you read books written by a woman?" "Sit down, Alex,""he said, "I will explain. Leslie Charteris is a man and his hero is called Simon Templar otherwise known as The Saint. Leslie is an epicene name. This means that it is a name that can be both a girl's or a boy's. If you were called Leslie it would be up to you to make sure everybody knew it was a man's name."

When my second daughter was born I insisted that she have an epicene name. So we named her Hilary.

Today Rebecca made an apple pie from scratch. I called her up from Safeway and asked her to call me back with the ingredients to buy. Hilary thought this was a project that would be perhaps too tough to handle. Hilary did not count on the fact that Rebecca had observed her make apple pies many times (Hilary's apple pies are famous in our family.) so she knew what to do. We had both Mike Varga (visible in last picture) and Abraham Rogatnick for dinner. The pie was excellent.

When I was 8 I distinctly remember helping my father with the making and the cooking of candied (they were green, not red!) apples. I felt so proud and told everybody I had made them. Could this have been the reason why I called Rebecca from Safeway on the apple pie?

In the picture above I am with my father and mother outside the neo-Gothic church in Luján in the Province of Buenos Aires. It was taken in 1947 when I was 5.


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