Conversations With Israel

Israel has two sons. One's name is Israel. And the other one's name is Israel. 

When this subject comes up, I always ask, in my perennially curious way, why he would name both his sons the same name. 
He never really answers the question. Yesterday his reply was: "My brother's name is Gabrielle."

End of subject. 

Of course his brother's name being Gabrielle has nothing whatsoever to do with his two sons being named Israel. It is a non sequitur. But I don't say this. I let it be.

Until the next time he mentions his sons.



If Israel had not taken the job here, the chance of our meeting or ever becoming friends would be about nil. 

He told me that they have only lived here a few years. For over twenty years he worked in Texas. He said you make more money there. 

They came here because his stepdaughter was alone and having a preemie baby. They came to help her. And so here they still are. And she and the baby live with them.

He is very attached to the toddler. He calls her "Be-be." He buys her candy from a Mexican place he found where he sometimes eats lunch, and he carefully wraps it and takes it home to her.

One day he unwrapped it and showed it to me. I had never seen candy like it before.

He always wears a cap, and his long black and gray ponytail sticks out the back. He is very short, maybe shorter than me, and you can tell he's had his fair share of beers with his friends. 

The other day there was a knock on my door. I knew it had to be Israel. Or the mailman or the FedEx guy.

He came in and asked where my hammer and screw driver are. I asked him where his was, and he said he locked them in his car. 

He has taken to carrying around this tool bag with a strap that he carries over his shoulder, so that he could keep his tools organized. He proudly showed me where there is a place for everything. 

So I asked him how he managed to lock his keys in his car. He said he had to go knock on a door and tell a resident to move his vehicle out of the space where the big trash truck gets the trash. 

When he got back to his car, he realized he'd locked them inside. 

When he comes back with my tools, he explains in great detail how you get back into a locked car. 



He talks about how things work in his Mexican world. If someone's relative has died and they need to go to Mexico for the funeral, everyone will automatically get together and pool their money to make sure they have the money to go. 

It seems to me that they take great pride in taking care of one another. 

Because he is accustomed to being around me, I think he talks as he would around his friends. And it has been said that I can curse like a sailor.

It is hilarious to hear him spout a string of curse words in all combinations when he is mad or frustrated. He talks so fast it is like one long word. English mixed with Spanish.

Sometimes this reminds me of Desi Arnaz. He played Ricky Ricardo. Probably many of you are too young to know who he was. He was Lucille Ball's husband. And I Love Lucy was one of my favorite shows as a child.

Ricky would get mad and start talking very fast in his native Cuban language, his eyes bugged out to show how upset he was. And then he would say: "Ay-ay-ay." And Lucy would be in the dog house. Where she pretty much always was.

Israel has a dog named Chico. At least he didn't name him Israel.

We have pretty much nothing in common, Israel and I. And yet we are comfortable around one another. 

He comes in and perches delicately on my wicker chairs in the living room, as though he might break them. They are indoor/outdoor chairs and quite durable. He isn't going to break them. But I don't think he's accustomed to wicker.

I hear him outside chatting up all the residents. He is happy-go-lucky and everyone seems to like him. 

He has a good soul.

But I really wonder what it's like when his oldest son from Austin comes to town, and all of them are in the same room. 

How would you know who is talking to who when all three are named Israel?

I will of course continue to ask, and I will get some answer that has nothing to do with my question. 

That's just Israel.

58 comments

  1. I really like reading about Israel for some reason. I think your friendship is neat. :)

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  2. I'm really enjoying getting to know Israel. He has a very interesting life. I feel so glad that he is your friend!

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    1. It is very interesting to have a friend who has lived so differently. I am constantly intrigued by his stories.

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  4. Israel sounds like a true character, and a character with heart. I think it is wonderful that he feels so comfortable around you, Brenda. xo Laura

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    1. And even stranger, that I feel so comfortable around him.

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  5. I love reading about your new friendship, Brenda. I had no idea you could curse like a sailor, however - ha ha!! I've been known to spout a few off when angry myself - must be the Queens girl in me! By the way, I Love Lucy was one of my all time favorite shows and I cried when Lucille Ball passed away!

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    1. Their will never be another "Lucille Ball." They broke the mold.

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  6. I agree, that is a funny conversation, but a great friendship. That's what's important.

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  7. I love the stories about Israel. So happy you have this special friend.

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  8. I find your friendship with Israel a wonderful thing!

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  9. I wonder if brother Gabrielle has sons ~~ and if they are all named Gabrielle ?? Does Israel have any daughters?? Curious minds need to know...
    George Foreman named all of his sons George...and I believe there are more than 2.

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    1. He does have daughters. Their names are not the same.

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  10. I like to hear stories about him. Maybe the sons are called by a middle name. I think it is funny he said his brother's name was Gabriel.

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    1. Yeah, we have some interesting and strange conversations.

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  11. Interesting. It reminds me of the Bob Newhart show done years ago where he owned an inn somewhere in Vermont. Of course, there was a set of neighbour's and two of the brothers were called Darryl.

    My son actually had a friend called Ronald. Ronald also had a brother called Ron. Same parents. They were an unusual family to say the least.

    I guess some things in life just leave us wondering.

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    1. I remember that! I guess they have their own reasons. And it's really none of my business. I just tease him. He teases me as well.

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  12. I love reading about your friendship with Israel, but reading this I had to chuckle when your said both his sons have the same name as he does. It reminded me of My Big Fat Greek Wedding when he was introduced to her family and it was Nick, Nick, Nick...lol!

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    1. I hope no one thinks I'm disrespecting Israel. Because I certainly don't mean that. He knows what I write. I don't hide it from him. If he didn't like something, I would take care of it.

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  13. I enjoy your stories about Israel and I do wonder what they do when all three are in the same room. Thanks for continuing to let us share in this ongoing friendship.

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    1. I understand from someone who emailed me that they typically go by their middle names.

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  14. The continuing story and adventures of Israel. Maybe the three are Israel 1, 2 and 3.??
    Anyway, friendship comes in all shapes sizes and nationalities. So glad he is there and such a good soul. Thanks for sharing the daily stories of your conversations.
    Oh and I loved the I love Lucy show too and still do when I can catch it on. I can just see and hear Rickie yelling about something, talking fast in Spanish and Lucy standing there saying, "Ya well" lol

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    1. Lucy and Ricky were classic. They'll never come up with a comedy better than that one.

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  15. What and interesting story! An unlikely friendship--sometimes those are the ones that bring us the most joy.

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  16. I love a good story...and your stories about Israel are good stories! Thanks for sharing, Brenda!

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    1. Someone emailed that she thought Israel was being poked fun at. But he read it. He knows how much I respect him. We tease one another. I would never do anything to hurt him.

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  17. I think 'unlikely' alliances are the best kind. They seem to teach us the most about ourselves and the world around us.

    I'm Lucy to Fisherman's Ricky. That shouldn't surprise you. :)

    I'm guessing Israel has nicknames for his sons. That's what you should ask him next time.

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    1. I understand from an email that children are often named the same names, and then called by their middle names.

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  18. Israel's brother is probably named "Gabriel", not "Gabrielle".
    Desi Arnaz/Ricky Ricardo did not speak a "native Cuban language", he spoke Spanish.

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    1. I stand corrected. I just know he came from Cuba.

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  19. Maybe the naming is like the old German tradition where all the males are named the same as the father but with different middle (or 'call' names). Israel sounds like a great friend to have!

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    1. Someone emailed and said that is the way things are. And then the children are called by their middle names.

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  20. Brenda,
    I realize that you've gone back and responded to most of us who left comments. That is very nice of you. I just wanted you to understand that the language spoken in Cuba is Spanish.
    I commend you on your kindness to Israel. It is wonderful to read about your developing friendship. More people should follow your lead.

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    1. Yes, I read your comment and responded here. I tried to email you, but you are a no-reply blogger, so I couldn't. I don't know why I didn't think "Spanish..."

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  21. I also enjoy hearing about Israel..Do you know that bebe is the Spanish word for baby?...It is not making fun of someone if you are both laughing about it..plus I believe you would never do such a thing..Israel sounds like a good hard working man who has gone through some rough times..I would be honored to know him...

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    1. He knows/reads why I write about him, and we both laugh. Because I seem to gather these little tidbits about him like a squirrel with nuts!

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    2. Oh, forgot to respond to bebe. I figured it might be baby in Spanish. He calls her "my little bebe."

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  22. MINHA FAMÍLIA É ASSIM,MEU AVÔ SE CHAMAVA LUIS,MEU IRMÃO ELCIO LUIS,MEU PRIMO LUIS CARLOS,MEU FILHO LUIS FELIPE,MEUS SOBRINHOS PEDRO LUIS E LUIS FERNANDO,OUTRO PRIMO SE CHAMA LUIS THIAGO E SEU FILHO LUIS FERNANDO,NÃO CONTANDO COM MEU EX MARIDO QUE SE CHAMA LUIS CARLOS,ISSO TUDO PARA HOMENAGEAR MEU AVÔ QUE FOI UMA PESSOA MARAVILHOSA.

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    1. I don't know what you wrote. Maybe someone can help me. Thank you so much for commenting!

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  23. Heavens, anyone whom has "read" you more than once or twice know that your tender heart wouldn't think to make fun of Israel. It's just not in your make-up. And the Gabriel (male) I always focus on is going to sound a horn at judgement day. There are any number of biblical or cultural reasons they are named or nicknamed the same. I always think of Israel having a sense of humor and a twinkle in his eye. No doubt he is telling the truth.....but also joking and stringing you along with a chuckle? It's what friends do. *shrug*

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    1. Yes, Israel has quite the sense of humor and we have a good time laughing with one another. He is a character for sure!

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  24. What a lovely description of Israel, so vivid. How nice that you two are friends, Brenda. It is strange to call both his sons the same name isn't it......maybe they have nicknames to help differentiate them? (We all have nicknames in our family!)
    Have a good day!
    Helen xox

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    1. Seems it is quite common to do that, and then they go by their middle name. I just didn't know that.

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  25. How different life is in other cultures, but it goes to show we can all get along! It's nice that you have him around to help you out.

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    1. Yesterday he helped me move the furniture around and then drilled holes in two shelves so I could get electrical cords through. I owe him a pizza!

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  26. What a lovely story, Brenda. Aren't unlikely friendships the best?! Happy Thursday ~

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    1. I think so. Because you'd never expect them. But then are blessed by them.

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  27. My mother is Mexican from Texas, my grandparents were from Mexico. Everyone in Mexico and Texas are always very friendly and smiling. And be prepared for a lot of talking and Spanglish as well. It is the culture.

    As far as the calling of middle names I never heard of it and I have so many relatives on that side I can't even begin. He sounds great and I love hearing about your friendship.

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    1. He is just so jovial always. Once he was upset and I saw him near tears, and I knew if he cried, I was going to be crying along with him. But he would not be the kind of man that would be embarrassed by that. He just shows his emotions, and I appreciate that. Because that's the way I am.

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  28. Reminds me of my german relatives on my dads side.....they were all named Anna, John, Stephen..makes it reaĺly hard to figure out the family tree....

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  29. I am so sorry that anyone thought you were making fun of Israel. That is so far from who you are. It seemed to me that you were just sharing something that appeared to be an interesting cultural difference.

    Like others I enjoy learning about Israel and your unique friendship.

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  30. I worked with a friend from San Antonio and she and her 4 sisters all have the same first name - Maria. Then each sister has a different middle name. My friend's name is Maria Angelina and she goes by Angie! I thought it was strange but I guess that is her family's custom.

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  31. I dont think there is anything wrong with your stories about Israel, I enjoy hearing about your friendship with him , it did occur to me to wonder if he tells stories about you..

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