Friday, April 22, 2005

What's In A Name?

Imagine that you have just been elected Pope. Clearly, except for the odd Cardinal of the Holy Roman, Catholic and Apostolic Church who is a regular reader of Homo Insapiens, that’s a difficult thing to imagine. But try to imagine it anyway. There are a couple of hundred thousand people waiting outside with more anticipation than the audience of The Apprentice. There are more bells ringing than there are at a glockenspiel players’ convention. Everyone who is anyone is dressed in red and you are being suited up in white. Six tour busses full of lepers are caught in traffic, an Irish bookmaker has shortened the odds on your being dead in 3 weeks, and a group of Druids has asked for a recount. There’s a mountain of crutches, canes and zimmer frames in the parking lot left by the people your predecessors cured. A billion people expect you to fix everything from eternal salvation to the washing machine; and some blond bimbo from network news who has not been to church since her fourth marriage is explaining the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council for CNN.

Do they give you a little time to figure out how to wear the new hat? Do you get to look over the sport feature package on the new Popemobile? Instead of being able to try out your new intercom system or having a good, stiff drink, some guy whispers in your ear, ‘don’t forget to change your name’. (Apparently this ensures that if an Australian is ever elected Pope, there will not be a ‘Wally I’.) Talk about pressure! Most of the good pope names have been used – some of them a dozen times or more. However, trendy is not a good idea. Fred isn’t very catchy, Bruce makes you sound like a waiter at the Hard Rock Cafe, Igor has PR problems, and Irving would really upset the Muslims. Better to stick with tradition.

You could go with Peter. But that might be like W changing his name from George Bush to George Washington; a bit of a stretch. There’s Callistus and Gelasius but no one is going to name their kid after you. There was a Pope Conon but Arnold Schwarzenegger has the royalty rights to the name. Alexander is iffy; number VI was quite the ladies’ man. Forget Sergius. Numero 3 had a son who became Anastasius III after bribing his way into the job. Scratch Anastasius as well.

The easy way out, choosing John Paul, could be embarrassing. You might wind up being John Paul, The Not As Great As The Other John Paul. The closest parallel to your situation is the Papal election of 461. The previous guy had called himself Leo and he became a saint and is called ‘The Great’. Under that much pressure, the new guy went for Hilarius. That has possibilities. Hilarius didn’t do much, he didn’t make anyone mad. Of course, being German, you have a problem with choosing Hilarius. The list of German stand up comedians is fairly short.

The guys in the monkey suits are getting ready to open the curtains. The Swiss Guard are doing their impression of very tall Munchkins in the Wizard of Oz. The Italian Army marching band has just struck up O Sole Mio in several keys. Vatican TV needs to go to a commercial. You have already lost the West Coast audience with the 9 hour time difference. Half the t-shirt factories in Sri Lanka are waiting - on overtime. It’s time to put up or shut up. It’s time to pick a name. And then you realise that God does work in mysterious ways. Sister Brunhilde slips you a double shot of Brandy & Benedictine to steady your nerves. You glance at the bottle, and the rest is history. Hallelujah!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great originality - an unexpected angle on the election of the Kraut Pope!
Love, Kitty

6:19 PM  
Blogger Voracious Reader said...

LOL. Amusing post.

10:28 PM  
Blogger Candace said...

Brilliant. Hilarious. I love it.

7:01 PM  
Blogger andrena said...

nice, nice!!! lol

10:08 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Hilarious :D

10:54 PM  
Blogger birdwoman said...

I'm still trying to picture a pope Wally.

My deal would be to find the pope name that only got to BlahBlah the Ninth. Then you get to have a cool X after your name. You know, like Leo X, Malcolm X...


9:50 AM  
Blogger Jilly said...

Very funny, I think he looks like a 'Wayne' to be honest.

2:09 PM  
Anonymous Tina said...

I think he looks like a "Larry"! Love the way you worked that out! very funny indeedly!

4:33 PM  
Blogger Nicolette said...

Benedict makes me think of Benedict Arnold and Eggs Benedict. I'll be honest, I want a guy that looks Just Like the last guy. The last guy is what The Pope looks like, and it's like some huge soap opera where they recast the part, and it takes a moment to regroup. (You cannot recast Erica Kane and not have her look like Susan Lucci!) I find it all quite disconcerting.

7:07 PM  
Blogger Africanuck said...

My husband was just saying yesterday that it might be time to buy stocks in whoever it is who makes Benedictine. Those guys must be dancing in glee over the free publicity.

1:42 AM  
Blogger Abby Taylor said...

This.... is.... hilarious.

9:33 PM  
Blogger Chris of Dangerous Logic said...

I think it would have been funny if Ratzinger had taken the name 'George Ringo.'

Not original; I forget where I heard it.

11:38 AM  
Blogger Terry Finley said...

Interesting comments. Is this a gig just on the pope or the whole Catholic Church? I am not Catholic but think the old pope was a pretty good fellow.

Terry Finley

12:12 PM  

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