June 17, 2011
My name lends itself well to nicknames. George. Georgie. Georgina. When I was in high school, my sister and her friends called me by what they decided was my Spanish name: Jorgina. Sometimes they would shorten it to just Jorge.
Even though the name is pretty common here in Mexico, Jorge still holds special significance for me, more so now since one of my teachers AND my tutor are named Jorge. Everything about my trip is making a lasting impression, don’t get me wrong, but the Jorge’s are in a category of their own.
Jorge Uno, as I call him, is an almost-30-year-old gay Mexican doctor who teaches Spanish Medical Terminology to our class of three girls.
He comes in every day, a healthy 30 minutes late, with a Pepsi Kick, some over-processed bread product, and his cell phone that looks exactly like a Flip Cam. He has a little paunchy belly, black beard and mustache, slicked back hair, and wears black pinstriped pants as often as he is late to class.
Hands down, the best part about Jorge Uno is his voice when he speaks English, which unfortunately I can’t recreate here. It reminds me of Speedy Gonzalez- high pitched, a little squeaky and accenting odd syllables. Luckily for me, I can imitate it pretty well, because he speaks in English all the time. Ask him a question in Spanish, and he will answer in English.
“Jorge, que vamos a hacer hoy?” we asked him one Friday when we went to his clinic for a “practicum.
“Well, gurrrrlzzz. Today we are going to be making the practice with my PASH-ENS that have the feet of diabetes.”
(A quick side note about diabetic feet: I imagine that diabetes is treated often enough in the U.S. that people don’t develop diabetic feet- whatever language you speak, its pretty nasty. Jorge proudly showed us pictures of him amputating the toes of his diabetic-footed patients.
It looked like they had frostbite, except that is physically impossible here in Mexico. I won’t go into the graphic details of the pictures, except to say that you could see bones. And tendons. And gooey stuff.)
It was in fact, in that same day, when he was showing us pictures of the amputation, that he told us about his sexuality. He was showing us pictures on his computer, when suddenly a shot came up of a Latino guy wearing a colonial-era dress, blonde wig, and enough make-up to give Dolly Parton a run for her money.
“That. That is my boy-friend.” Jorge announced nonchalantly. “He is an actor.”
Of course he is. Of course Jorge is dating an “actor.” Jorge later revealed that his boyfriend, Jose, runs the dance studio located on the second-floor of the clinic, goes to school for acting, and is 23.
Jorge and Jose want to adopt children and get married, but can’t because, according to Jorge “The depu-taties have sheeet in their brains and are making the rules that say we cannot adopt the children. But you do not need a pen-is and vah-heen to raise a child. You just need the love and the ability.”
This was followed by a 30-minute rant about gay rights in Mexico, which segued into a rant about the steps that people need to take to have the “safety sex,” as he calls it.
Even though it took every ounce of strength I had to not laugh out loud throughout this ENTIRE conversation, I couldn’t help but being impressed with Jorge. He is a progressive-thinking man and is working his butt off to make other people’s lives better.
His clinic is in a slightly rough neighborhood, and offers discounted, free, or government-subsidized services to poor people, especially in the surrounding Mayan pueblos. Jorge runs a community service volunteer program at the medical school in Merida, providing free clinics for disadvantaged people every Saturday morning.
He also has a passion for promoting safe sex, like I mentioned earlier. He showed us a box of (no joke) 5,000 condoms that he picked up (for free) at the Ministry of Health that he’s going to give out “to save the boys and girls.” Jorge is almost evangelical about promoting “safety sex.” He told us that he gives them to as many people as he can: at conferences, meetings, classes, as prizes. I am envisioning Jorge hosting a foam party, except instead of showering the party-goers in bubbles, he would make it rain condoms.
However, Jorge said that those free condoms only taste like lubricant, not the flavored ones that he recommended we buy for our boyfriends when we asked him what a good gift for our men would be.
“No Jorge, we want something you can ONLY get in Merida, Mexico.”
“Chile-jabanero flavored condons of course.” Was his matter-of-fact reply.
He considered our question a little more seriously.
“You have boyfriend in the States? Why you not have Mayan pygmy boyfriends? You do not like the pygmies? What about African pygmies? Or any pygmies at all?”
I’m not really sure what Jorge’s fixation with pygmies is, but he talks about them all the time. When he was driving us to a bus stop after our practicum, he pointed out everyone walking on the street.
“Look. There is police-pygmy. And pygmy on motorcycle. And pygmy lady sitting down.”
I thought I was going to asphyxiate I was laughing so hard. Or I thought I would “matar de risa” as my tutor Jorge Dos taught me.
Jorge Dos is not as flamboyant a character as his predecessor, but I think, besides maybe my host mom, he will be the person that I have spoken the most consistent Spanish with by the time I go home.
Every day for two hours, my friend and I sit in a little study room and hang out with Jorge Dos. At first glance, he’s pretty normal and unassuming. Average height (for a Mexican), dark hair, jeans, and t-shirt.
Even though he’s studying history, I think he has more patience than whoever invented claymation stop-action cinematography. Which I have a feeling he is a fan of.
See, Jorge Dos is, as we say in the English AND Spanish-speaking countries, a nerd.
A patient nerd. A nerd with enough patience to sit in a room for two hours every day and listen to grown, intelligent, college-educated girls struggle through basic conversations with more stuttering than Porky Pig.
As much as I know he is dying to laugh at us as much as we laugh at Jorge Uno, somehow he holds it in.
I like to think we have pretty good conversations, even if they are a little one-sided sometimes. Some highlights: We spend a lot of time talking about holidays. We talked about our Halloween costumes, which is when Jorge Dos revealed that he wanted to buy a Legolas costume the time he visited Miami, but the box was too big to get on the plane (he also revealed that day that he has a Lord of the Rings action-figure set).
When it came time to describe Christmas traditions, it took a solid 10 minutes to describe glitter to him.
“You know. Bright. Shiny. Sparkly. Powder. Lady Gaga bathes in it…”
He figured it out eventually, and was the most amused I’ve ever seen him when I told him that some people mix glitter and oatmeal and put it in their front yards to signal to Santa’s reindeer.
“So you create a landing strip for the reindeer.”
Sure, Jorge. Even though he hadn’t seen “It’s a Wonderful Life,” Jorge had seen a lot of other American movies.
He is actually a movie buff- apparently he has a VIP card to the movie theater and can buy his tickets to the new Harry Potter movie before everyone else.
He also references “The Hangover” movies a lot. He told us he has to plan his friend’s Bachelor Party, and, though inspired by the antics in the film, wanted a more “tranquilo” time in Cancun for the “despidida de soltero” party (goodbye to singleness).
Jorge is always giving us nifty little cultural nuggets like that. Like the fact that he drives everywhere because, according to him, if you walk in the street here, people will think you are crazy or poor.
I walk everywhere that I can, so who knows what the population here thinks of me.
Jorge Dos understands most of our questions in English, so my new goal is to get him to actually SPEAK in English. Maybe it will be as awesome as when Jorge Uno does…
I can just imagine him, like Jorge Uno “Ok guuuurlzzz, be happy, enjoy your lives, and find a nice pygmy.”