Armando and I decided to meet at Casa Flores following his afternoon hearing. After he mistook an innocent bystander as his afternoon host, I introduced myself and we dove into the interview.
Q. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A. "A day with my wife and kids on the beach. We LOVE the beach. We went to Biarritz [France] this summer, but we typically go to Santa Cruz… a lot!"
Q. What is your greatest fear?
A. "My greatest fear is losing one of my kids. That's a fear I have."
Q. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
A. "I am quick to anger. I get angry really quick and that typically leads to profanity ha ha! At my age, I should have matured out of this bad habit… Maybe at 60!"
Q. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
A. "An expansive sense of tolerance. People are always saying we should tolerant of basically everything, but there are some ideas that we simply do not have to be tolerant of. Some of those ideas come from old books."
Q. What is your greatest extravagance?
A. "Oh, travel. My wife lets me travel anywhere. Or shall I say, anywhere so long as I don't endanger my life recklessly!"
"Where was your favorite place?" I asked.
"With my wife, probably Bora Bora. When I travel alone, a place with raftable rivers. I love rafting. It has been a few years; its' about time to go again. I recently went to Cuba, and that was on my so-called bucket list."
Q. What is your favorite journey?
A. "My favorite journey? To where I am now and how I got here; I am very happy where I am in my life. It took me thirty years to get here and it is not that easy. Your thirties are not that great. In your forties, you're getting there. And now at the age of 52… I am in a good place."
Q. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
A. "Patience! Patience is overrated ridiculously! No question, about it! So can we move this along? Ha ha!"
Q. What do you dislike most about your appearance?
A. "My appearance? It's funny that you should ask. Today I have to take my son to his orthodontia appointment. I have been taking my children to orthodontists for YEARS and they sit there and point out everything that is wrong with their teeth, and I'm sitting there thinking, hey! I have that! So NOW, what I dislike most about my appearance is the gap between my front teeth. It never bothered me before…. Not until I had kids. Some people would think that I would have said, 'Being bald', but I love it! It fits my personality. It's who I am."
Q. Which words of phrases do you most overuse?
A. "I don't think I really have any," he said after pondering the question. "But I can tell you that I am very blunt! I think people know I am blunt. I am working on that, and I wish that people could know me for something else, like 'he always has a smile on his face'…. Darn!" he laughed somewhat sarcastically. "But at least it's honest".
Q. What is your greatest regret?
A. "I didn't think these questions would get so personal." He paused and gathered himself, although the answer was clearly already in his mind. "I regret not spending enough time with my dad. That, that is a BIG regret."
Q. What or who is the greatest love of your life?
A. "My wife! Easy!"
Q. When and where were you happiest?
A. "Anytime there is a barbque at my parents house and we all get together. There will be about 20 of us; the nieces, nephews, all the kids… With the family all there, those are the best of times."
Q. Which talent would you most like to have?
A. "A talent? Well, there are a ton that I need! Probably, to speak more languages. I speak two, one not so good as the other. But it would be wonderful to travel and be able to speak with locals in their tongue."
Q. What would you consider your greatest achievement?
A. "I think I have done a really good job at balancing all that I need to. My family time, my business and practice of law, my desire to travel and giving back where I can."
Q. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing what would you like to be?
A. "Ooo wow!" He struggled with the answer for a little while. "I don't know. Well, I guess I would be a revolutionary in Latin America in the 1950's." He smiled and shrugged his shoulders. "Well, it sounds romantic to me anyway!"
Q. What is your most treasured possession?
A. "A ring my dad gave me. It's not really worth anything, but it has huge sentimental value. I also have a picture of my mom that my aunt gave to me. The picture is in a small scope that you have to look into. It's small, but I take it out and look at it occasionally."
Q. What is your favorite occupation?
A. "My favorite occupation that I ever had was an I.R.S. agent." He proceeded to go though a very diverse list of locations his audits took him and the interesting businesses he became acquainted with. "I got to travel, meet people, and learn about many interesting businesses. I was probably not the best I.R.S. agent! If I audited you, you probably didn't owe the I.R.S. any money."
Q. What is your most marked characteristic?
A. "I don't know. I will have to ask my wife. The boss will know," he reassured me. After our interview, Armando got back to me to report his wife's answer: patience.
Q. What do you most value in your friends?
A. "A sense of humor. Some people would say loyalty, but I can get that from my family. What I need from my friends is a good laugh!"
Q. Who are your favorite writers?
A. "I read mostly non-fiction. I love Christopher Hitchens, and unfortunately he passed away, but I enjoy his political dialogue and philosophical works. For fiction I like Barbara Kingsolver. I also read a lot of historical nonfiction."
Q. Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
A. "Well, I don't know… I guess if I had to pick one there were a number of characters created by Sinclair Lewis that I could choose from. Also, you can't forget the flawed characters like Madame Bovary, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Humbert Humbert."
Q. Who are your heroes in real life?
A."I am drawn to history's rabble rousers like Che Guevara, Ali, Malcolm X, and Caesar Chavez."
Q. How would you like to die?
A. "How I die doesn't matter. But I would like a few minutes' notice. I don't want to die in my sleep, I don't want to die unexpectedly or abruptly. I just want to be able to gather my thoughts and run through my life, highs and lows, appreciate the journey and say goodbye to the ones I love."
Q. What is your motto?
A. "I don't have a motto, but I do have a little story I tell my kids. I say, every morning you wake up and you have an orange. At the end of the day, the orange will be gone no matter what. You can choose to get all the juice and sweetness out of the orange or you can let it go to waste. What are you going to do today with your orange?"
"Under Oath" is a recurring feature submitted by the Women's Lawyer's Section for Across the Bar.
Members of the SJCBA are interviewed and asked to give responses to a set of questions.
Responses maybe paraphrased or condensed.