4. What’s in a Name

Aboard the PICTOR MARU (as she was affectionally known to her crew) there were usually 17 or 18 officers, and when not on duty, they would congregate in the wardroom which served as a lounge and officer’s mess. Quite a few of the officers were from California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. This being the case many of them spoke at least a little pigeon Spanish. There was one supply officer of Greek descent. His name was Sotir Lukakis (last name changed). Since we were a supply vessel we had a fairly large contigent of personnel involved in supply functions. Sotir had a division of men that reported to him and his top petty officer was a first class of Mexican descent named Jesus Menendez (last name changed).[For the purposes of this story when Jesus is in itialics read it as the spanish pronounciation of Hey-soos, and when not in italics read it as the English pronounciation of Gee-sus].

Sotir seemed fascinated with the idea that someone would actually have the name Jesus. One little scene that took place in the wardroom frequently involved  Jesus arriving with some papers that required Sotir’s signature. Sotir would take care of the business and then Jesus would be on his way, but as soon as he was out of hearing distance Sotir would invariably comment  to those officers that happened to be present, “Can you imagine naming your child Jesus. That is really wierd.” An episode of this nature would repeat itself once or twice a week. The other officers who had some familiarity  with spanish knew that Jesus was a common name in latin American countries, and they saw nothing unusual in that name. Most of them thought Sotir was somewhat strange to bring up the subject as often as he did, but after a while they just started ignoring him when he went on his little rant.

Sometime after our first trip to WESTPAC I went home, on leave, to visit my folks. When I arrived at my parent’s place in the middle of the afternoon my mother and a little old lady friend from across the street were having tea and cookies, so I sat down with them to chat. The neighbor was Greek by birth, and I saw an opportunity to clear up a point I was curious about. I asked her:

“Does the name ‘Sotir’ have a specific meaning in Greek?”

“Why yes, it means savior”

Oh Ho! Now I began to see the humor behind Sotir’s fascination with the name Jesus. After my leave, I returned to the ship armed with this new information, but I kept it under my hat. It didn’t take long. Late one afternoon when most of the officers were gathered in the wardroom  Jesus arrived carrying some documents for Sotir to sign. As usual, after he had left Sotir started in, “Can you imagine naming your child Jesus? That is really weird.” As usual, everybody just ignored him. I let a few seconds pass and then I spoke up:

“Hey, have any of you guys ever wondered what the name “Sotir” might mean in Greek? I just happened to run across this little fact the other day.”

Everybody stopped what they were doing and looked up at me.

“Don’t tell me ‘Sotir’ means ‘Jesus’ in Greek,” one officer exclaimed.

“No, but close. It means “savior'”

Well, that brought down the house.

“HOW DID YOU FIND THAT OUT?” Sotir shouted  over the laughter.

Poor guy, from that day on they never called him anything but “savior” in the wardroom.

Tags: , ,

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010 U.S. Navy No Comments