Andres Martinez Mahamud was born to Teofilo and Josefina in Madrid, Spain, in the Year of Our Lord 1948, though he always acted like it had been 1968.
He was third oldest and no doubt the boldest, the most animated of nine hermanos: Mary Carmen, Alfredo, Andres, Alberto, Jose Victor, Pedro, Enrique, Aliçia and Pablo. Andres also believed, and wanted us to believe, he was the most wise, the most guapo. But we knew better. Not to say he didn’t have wisdom and a superior intelligence, as anyone knew who took the time to listen through his impenetrable accent in English, or could speak his native castellano.
In time, some of his fellow divers grasped what he had to offer as a businessman, theoretician and vanguard for change in the topsy-turvy, never dull, sea-urchin world. We all wish he’d slowed down sooner, but “slower” was as foreign to Andres as a limp wrist to Hercules.
At the poker table, Señor Martinez was the paradigm for Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler.” Don’t ever count your money while you’re sitting at the table — with Andres. At the Happy Acre Annual, as in life, he was a hot stick of dynamite with the fuse on fire. Just when you thought you had a good hand, the challenge from Andres you never wanted to hear was, “I smell weakness.” Legend are those who came off second-best.
But many of us knew the man best through rugby. Yes, he was the youngest ever to play for the Spanish national team, but Javier Bardem says playing rugby in Spain is like playing ice hockey in Japan.
Contrary to his own opinion, Andres wasn’t the most graceful or deceptive runner, but no one ever tackled him, or got tackled by him, and forgot the experience. If you missed a step, you were dead meat. Ask Willem Goosens. It was with his rugby teammates that he dove deepest into life, put it all on the line for the brotherhood in every match, and drew far more blood than he gave up. And if, in the inimitable universe of rugby social affairs, anyone ever fancied himself the life of the party, he’d never crossed paths with the genuine “El Mondo Bizarro.”
If there was ever a roaring, running, rambling epitome of commitment, gargantuan strength, heart-melting charm and nose-bleed hubris, it was Andres Martinez Mahamud — plugged in, but unconscious.
And yet, with Gloria and the children, he was the gentle, loving, considerate family man he’d always longed to be. Gloria saw parts of him I’m sure none of the rest of us had (or ever wanted to). She will remember him in those times and places and dreams that were all their own.
Someone once said Andres must have been the inspiration for Robert Service’s “The Men Who Don’t Fit In”:
They range the field and they rove the flood,
And they climb the mountain’s crest;
Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,
And they don’t know how to rest.
But now we’re left with the Rogers’ closing:
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done.