Eduardo Verastegui is doing interviews for the DVD release of For Greater Glory, a film about the Cristeros war that I highly recommend, and so do these Carmelite sisters whose order survived those days of peril.
I give Verastegui respect, for several reasons: because people who have met him have told me he is a particularly sweet man whose success seems to have made him more, not less humble, and because promotional tours are challenges to humility and also personally wearying. Being interviewed many times — often asked very similar questions on one topic — can be tough on concentration, and a challenge to one’s patience, but he seems to handle it with grace, as evidenced here, during his chat with Leticia Velasquez.
But he gets extra respect for not only surviving this interview with a kid-distracted Matthew Archbold, but for calling him back (with apology) when the call gets cut off, from Archbold’s end:
Yeah, I call him Eduardo.
“Hello,” he says. “How are you?”
I tell him I’m great. And then I look down at my first question and I’m looking at a stapler and a receipt from a sporting goods store. Uhm. My eyes dart around my desk. Checkbook, router, empty Diet Coke, pen, full Diet Coke, and a crayon. A crayon!?
I’m no Hardy boy but this is a clue.
I’m dying to find my interview questions so I fill the time with this brilliant question: “Uhm,” I say to Eduardo. “Uhm. Soooooooooooooooooooo….your movies’s coming out on DVD, huh?”
Not seeming to mind that this is the worst opening question in an interview ever, Eduardo tells me that it’s not just a DVD release it’s so much more. He tells me there’s “more scenes” and included in it is “a history of what happened” leading up to the Cristero movement.
As he’s telling me this I dart over to the five year old who is drawing fastidiously in bold colors like Leroy Niemann without the subtlety and I look under her crazy drawing and I see my questions.
“I want this film to inspire people, touch them, educate them and transform them,” says Eduardo as I’m pull the paper out from under my five year old’s crayon like a magician pulling the tablecloth from under candlesticks and silverware. This shocks the five year old who yelps and then she looks up at me and I give her my look of intense pleading for quiet.
But something gets lost in the translation and she takes my look of intense pleading for quiet as my mad face and then…tears. She starts crying. Now I’m thinking about treating my daughter like a grenade and just darting out of her blast range as fast as I can but my parenting instincts kick in and then I give her my “I’m sorry” face. But she can’t see that because her face is pressed against my belly.
And that’s when I realize that Eduardo has stopped talking. “Hello?” I hear him say.
And then I throw in this brilliant question. “Uhm. Uh. I gotta’ tell you I didn’t know anything about Mexico before this movie?”
Yeah, that’s what I said. Word for word. I know. Believe me I know. “I mean, I didn’t know anything of the religious persecution.”
Eduardo says he didn’t either. And that’s much worse for him as a Mexican. He says the danger in not knowing the history is we “keep repeating the same mistakes.”
Eduardo is telling me about the history while the five year old is still whimpering into my shirt and I tell her that I’ll go get her more paper and crayons while holding the phone up above my head so Eduardo can’t hear me talking about crayons while he’s telling me about the a horrible religious persecution.
Now, the 12 year old has come around to save me. Thank goodness. She picks up the five year old, gives me her “you’re the worst father in the world” look which I absolutely deserve, and she sits her down to draw again. I go into the corner of the room next to the printer to get paper and crayons.
Read on! It gets worse and worse for Archbold, but Verastegui carries on, manfully. Respect!
And props to Archbold, too, for turning what could be an unproductive major embarrassment into a belly laugh that still gets the job done. I too am a lousy interviewer, so I appreciate his honesty, a lot.
UPDATE: Kathryn Lopez interviews a “son of Cristero”, Bishop Plácido Rodriguez