June 9, 2012

Full Power Will Own You


My Peace Corps counterpart has many sons.  When I first arrived here, he explained the meanings of the names he had given them.  He translated them for me, pointing each of them out, saying, “That’s Good Growth, that’s Blessing, that’s Heritage, that’s Power, that’s Full Power, and that’s Grandpa Power.”

My first thought was that Full Power was awesome and Grandpa Power was lame.  And what about Power?  Why doesn’t he get some specific kind of power, like Full or Grandpa?  Aren’t there any other kinds of power here?  Does that mean he inherently gets both, since the word “power” categorically refers to those sole two kinds?  Is he really Full Grandpa Power, but just goes by ‘Power’ because the ‘Full Grandpa’ makes his name redundant?


I’ll tell you about Full Power.  He looks like a Malagasy Mega Man, minus the blue body armor.  He’s about five or six years old, has a furrowed brow and projected jaw, wears a camouflage-print outfit, and regularly clobbers this one neighbor kid.  He even drinks coffee in the morning (which is probably the last thing he needs), and I wonder if he’s already shaving.  He looks like a three-and-a-half foot tall Malagasy Bob Hoskins.  His voice is somewhat baritone for a six year old.  When I encounter Full Power, I reflexively brace myself because I expect his kindergarten fist to slam into my solar plexus, leaving me face down in the dirt, making that awkward sucking sound that people make when their respiratory system has been paralyzed.

To return to the ramblings of the second paragraph: if there’s a Grandpa Power, is or was there ever a dude named, say, Sister Power?  That would suck.  There are guys here named Sweet and Honey, so I won’t be surprised if I run into a Sister Power someday.  I heard about this Malagasy guy with a single protruding tooth that is apparently huge, and his name is Tooth.  I met a deaf mute at a Malagasy hotely once, and he was introduced to me as Dumb (in the original sense of the word).  Some names could go one way or the other.  Like Violent Wind, which is a cool name because it makes you think of Tsunami or Kamikaze, but on the other hand, you might interpret it as Violent Fart.  When I see him, I try to think 'Kamikaze', but 'Violent Fart' is what I'm really thinking.

I often see people behaving contrary to their names.  I once saw a little girl named Sensible throwing Mach-speed haymakers into a little boy’s head.  I regularly see a guy named Happy Happy get way pissed pissed (the last time he got pissed pissed, he beat up a pig); Blessing never goes to church; and Grandpa Power is only 16 years old.  I could go on, but you get the idea.  Full Power, on the other hand, owns his name.  Last month, I was playing Frisbee with his older brother, Heritage.  Full Power wanted to play, but Heritage dismissed him.  At this point, Full Power’s reaction will be believable to you: he slammed a devastating uppercut into Heritage’s ribcage, followed by a series of kidney shots.

What is the point of this blog entry?  I’m not sure.  It was supposed to be about Malagasy names, but it’s become a stream-of-consciousness rambling with the quality of a Craigslist post.  And it also seems, after rereading, that I’m trying to convince you that it’s ok that I’m, well, maybe kind of terrified of a six year old (and I'm like... 30 and a half).  It’s ok, right?  Aren't you convinced??

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