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Saturday, January 7, 2017
One of Spain's greatest traditions is the parade of The Three Kings, otherwise known in Spanish as Los Reyes Magos ( The Magic Kings). It is the equivalent of the Santa Claus parade in many Western societies, and because it involves something good for children it carries with it awe and wonderment. It is the most serious event in the country because of the hopes, dreams and expectations of children, and by extension their parents.
The names in Spanish of the Three Kings are Melchor, Gaspar, and Balthazar, who is a black man. For years a white actor has played the role of Balthazar with black face, but in today's world, with an adequate number of Black people living in Spain the directive is to recruit a black man in the interest of authenticity.
It should be said that to play these roles is a great honour, one which is fiercely sought after and awarded to the most deserving. In the town of Rocafort, which is located close to the main city of Valencia all was in readiness up until the last minute when the person chosen to play Balthazar had to drop out, causing a panic.
On the Tuesday before the parade I was in a shopping Mall when I encountered a mother with an out of control child who, I'm assuming wanted something that his mother would not buy him. He was making a terrible scene and really upsetting his mother, so I moved between him and his mother and stood over him with my hands on my hips and I said, "Soy Balthazar!" The child reacted as though he had been struck by lightening. He ran past me to his mother and held on to her slacks. I wagged my finger at him while making tut-tut sounds of disapproval, and indicating I would keep my eyes on him.
He was ready to cooperate and go with his mother without a sound. The look in her eyes directed to me was to say "I could hug you, while she mouthed "Muchas Gracias!"
The next morning my wife called from work, which woke me up to ask me a favour for her boss. Would I mind playing the role of Balthazar tomorrow? I think I said yes, then went back to bed. After about five minutes I got up again and sat on the bed wondering whether I had actually had a call or was that a dream following on from yesterday. Eventually I realised this was real. I had no idea what would really be involved, so I spent most of the morning on YouTube watching hours of parades all over the country.
There was not much point in me worrying whether my robes would fit me, or whether anything would go wrong. Of course things would go wrong, we would just have to face every challenge as it arose.
Fast forward to the next night, 6pm,5th January, the starting time for the parade. My robes fit perfectly; I had worn the exact appropriate own clothes, including the correct shoes that I was advised to wear just before I arrived. (Just as well I was wearing them.) I don't know the last time I have seen so many children, or felt such overwhelming love and respect. People addressed me as Your Majesty.
Hey! I could get used to that.
We arrived at the main park where we were met by dancing girls and bands and we three were the full focus of attention. And then the love came flooding in as we began the process of giving gifts to a never ending flow of children of various ages. Well, I've run out of words to describe this part of the experience. No wonder so many men fight to get this role. Believe me, it's worth fighting for and absolutely nothing went wrong.
They wanted to pay me for doing this, when I was more than ready to bribe someone ten times as much just to let me do this at least once.
This is one of those experiences in life that should happen to every man at least once in his life. That's so that he will feel touched in a part of his being that he didn't even know existed. That night, I went to bed thoroughly exhausted and I slept the sleep of a very righteous man.
I have been touched for all time, so it would probably be a bad idea to do it again as the first time cannot be duplicated.
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