Cusco Characters: Señora Melvyn

Approximately 60 years ago, a Peruvian couple was anxiously awaiting the birth of their child and in the days leading up to the delivery, they had yet to pick a name. That night, they went to a Lima movie theater to see a Hollywood movie and to relax. To this day they can’t remember the name of the movie but it starred an enchanting actress who was paired with a well-known Hollywood leading man. They loved the actress’ performance so much they decided right then that if they had a girl, they would name it after the actress. Unfortunately, they left the theater hurriedly and didn’t get the actress’s name and a few days later they gave birth to a baby girl.

When it came time to name the baby girl they had a lasting memory of the actress’ performance but not her name. Under pressure from the doctor who was filling out the birth certificate, they did the next best thing. They named the girl after the film’s well-known leading man: Melvyn Douglas. At that time, Melvyn Douglas was one of America’s finest actors and would finish his career with two Oscars, a Tony and an Emmy award. He won best supporting actor awards for “Hud” and “Being There” during an acting career that spanned six decades.

This is how Señora Melvyn got such an interesting name, not to mention a perfect icebreaker at social events and business meetings. Señora Melvyn’s works at the CTTC and spends most of her time working on preparations for a textile convention next year. She is extremely affable and warm and makes friends quickly. She seems to know everyone in town; when we walk across town for a business appointment, we often have to stop multiple times to briefly chat with business acquaintances, extended family members and friends. After every stop I remind her that she should run for Mayor of Cusco.

Melvyn and I became fast friends back in June when we first started sharing an office. We discovered we shared a joint love for the 40’s Cuban bandleader Perez Prado and I offered to make her a CD of his greatest hits from my digital library. She was thrilled and spent an inordinate amount of time making a detailed and intricately decorated CD case for it. Melvyn thrives on details and she will often spend a good part of her day organizing her office belongings, alphabetizing the business cards of her business contacts or re-writing meeting notes.

Melvyn thrives on interaction with people and is very good at getting the information she needs in order to push her project forward. I often hear her on the phone setting up appointments and often, after introducing herself on the phone, there's a pause and she launches into an abbreviated version of how she got her first name. From there the conversation becomes animated and she usually gets what she needs from the person she's talking to. Señora Melvyn has made the most out of a very unique name.

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