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Friday, October 3, 2008

Luigi Gonzaga

That was me in the mid 1500’s. I was a good looking lad then. A bit effeminate, but good haircut...
what happened? you might ask.

My name (and this is sheer coincidence) was Luigi Gonzaga. I died young and was made a saint posthumously – or beatified, as they say – but I run ahead of myself. First – against my father’s wishes, who preferred I become a soldier or a marquis in a long line of fat and opulent noblemen– I entered the Jesuit order. I worked tirelessly for the poor. I gave up every penny and it is said that at the height of my selflessness I carried a moribund man twenty miles into Rome, a plague-ridden man, a dead man. I died two weeks later of the same disease.

You will ask, how the hell do I know this? You will ask, how does a man who xeroxes for a living – a Croatian national who xeroxes for a living in a business park on the outskirts of Amsterdam, how can such a man have this kind of profound historical “memory” – that is, if you got past the first hurdle that it could be me at all. In any case, you will pronounce me a fool, or at least you will think it, and you will laugh nervously. But I will laugh too. I will laugh louder than you and longer, and then I will laugh again, and at that moment you will be silent and you’ll think fuck, is this guy serious?

I’m dead serious Brendan, that’s me. Ok, I’ve changed a bit. I don’t carry dead guys to Rome on my back anymore, but that was me. I swear.

Lui, dude, the only thing you got in common with this guy is that you're dating a Jewish girl.

He’s a Jesuit, Brendan, JESUIT, not Jewish.

Then you're really talking out of your ass. Stop being crazy, you’re scaring me.

Then why are you laughing?

I just know. I know in my bones. And you want to know how I know? You want me to tell you how? I’m going to tell you, but expect no hocus-pocus, expect no mysticism, expect no illumination, no smoke-breathed apparition with a message of "information"…Simply, I recognized him. That’s all. Like you recognize a man on the street, like you recognize a friend in a crowd. I recognized him because we were friends – what I mean is, I liked who I was, and I don't just mean the good guy in sandals, I liked my whole attitude, my game plan, my set of principles, I liked the calluses under my feet, I liked the chunk of cheese and bread in my satchel, I liked travelling light, I liked my haircut, and especially, I liked pissing off my dad. In short, I liked ME under the Gonzaga rule. It is much later, in subsequent centuries - especially recently - that I developed my cynicism and miniaturized self-esteem. I had no such issues at the time.

But now you raise your eyebrows, and you ask, but how did you find him then? On Facebook? And you smirk. And I tell you it straight.

In a book, Goni, at the library. He was on a postcard in a book.

What? Come on Lui, you have to do better than that…

That's where I found him. A random book. I opened it and there he was.

What book?

What difference does it make? It was random.

It makes a difference. If everything in your account can be random except him, it doesn’t work. What book?

Don’t get smart Gon, I just know, alright.

You’re telling me you were a 16th century blue-blooded, Italian saint. Excuse me for being sceptical... Luigi… tell me what book!

No… find your own book.