The Name Game
Sometimes, when I'm in the mood, which is usually, I'll give a fake name at the coffee place, or Jamba Juice, or any place they ask for a name. Back when I was actively pursuing a variety of soul-deadening "careers," I did it most every day.
I enjoyed the few minutes I'd spend as someone else, and loved the idea that this person making my hot chocolate, my Jamba Juice, whatever, looked at me and saw not someone saddled with my real name, but instead a streamlined, easy-to-understand "Pete" or "Chuck."
Then I'd get back to work and IM my friend the Connie Monster, who'd always insist that next time I tell them my name is "Furious."
On Mondays, days I'm not supposed to be working at the big biotech but have been, I like to stop off at a Starbucks near work -- only because it's the only hot chocolate outlet available in South San Francisco -- get my hot chocolate and use a fake name. Last week I was "Frank." I went in this week, though, and panicked: same counter worker.
See, I have a rule. I can't use the same name twice. And believe me, it's a tough rule to follow. There was a stretch when I wanted to be "Marcus" every time, but you've got to have boundaries. So I went in there last Monday and realized that if I continue going to that Starbucks, eventually that counter worker is going to realize that I have a different name each time. And she'll start to wonder about my sanity, which is pretty funny, because her wondering would be based on ... truth. Yes, I am a guy who makes up fake names when he goes to Starbucks. As for what kind of person would feel the need to do that, I'd really rather not spend much time thinking about that.
Backed into a corner, I relented and went with my real name. I figured that she probably didn't remember me yet. What happened moving forward was more important.
Connie Monster insisted that I would never pass for "Matty," anyway.
My proper San Francisco friends would be loathe to hear it, but I love television. While they work to eradicate the hated "idiot box" from their lives, I bemoan the fact that I don't watch enough TV. On a good week, I only get an hour a night, more if I stay up to watch "Sportscenter."
Not only that, but I know and value the people in my life who are good TV-watchers. To me, that's as important as being a good co-pilot on a road trip, or assuming the responsibility to be gremlin-like if you are the one stuck sitting in the back seat.
Here are some people who are great to watch TV with:
My mom, who knows the name of every actor who ever appeared in anything, and who went on and on about how obvious Charlton Heston's toupee was while we were watching a "Planet of the Apes" marathon.
Either of my sisters. My older sister likes to talk to the TV as much as I do, and my little sister, well, during the summer of 1984 we watched "Valley Girl" so often that we started deconstructing it to the point where we felt it could have been taught in an undergraduate literature class.
Fred Luna, who once even made "Star Trek" funny.
Roger A. Hunt - he loves TV more than I do, but sadly, doesn't get as many chances to watch as he'd like. He could teach a graduate-level class in 1960s and 70s sitcoms, however.
Sandra Bullock, when she's not absorbed in some catalogue.
Mike Westover. Poor Mike. He's been living in some unpronounceable third world country where I doubt they have television, and if they do, it probably exists only to broadcast verbal attacks on Jews by the local Imans.
Flush Puppy: Oh, there were days of glory, when we all lived in the same apartment building and had "Melrose Place" potlucks each Wednesday. I hope her new home comes with a TV room.
Peter O'Toole, especially if there's Ben & Jerry's in the house and you're watching the red carpet prior to the Golden Globes.
Special sports-watching category for Ken Dunque.
One of my roommates when I lived in Boston. I can't remember her name but we made a commitment to watch "Doogie Howser, M.D." together each week.
Will I teach the Jawa to love TV like I do? Probably not. It's not like being an avid TV-watcher is something I'm proud of. I understand that it's base and crude, and that I'm supposed to be too sophisticated to sit and watch 9 hours of football on a Sunday.
I once paraphrased Allen Ginsberg to a teacher I had in grad school. "I saw the greatest minds of my generation," I began, "Memorizing the lyrics to the 'Brady Bunch' theme song." I pretend like it's heart-breaking, because I know I'm supposed to. I'm trying to hold on to whatever intellectual street cred I was supposed to grow up to have.