What’s in a Name?

mel_by_WillemXSM“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” -from The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2), by William Shakespeare

This famous line spoken by Juliet during her illicit rendezvous with her unsuitable paramour speaks volumes not just about her relationship but about the power we’ve given to names that perhaps shouldn’t reside there. If someone’s last name is Chan or Nguyen our minds are already searching for what we know about Chinese culture. If their first name is Tynisha or LaFawnda, we can’t help but imagine someone whose family originally derives from Africa. It’s human nature. But should it be? What really is in a name?

I remember when I first found the glorious internet. It was back in 1994 after I had graduated from high school never having access to the new technology. At college though, when I went to Temple University that fall, it seemed as if it had exploded all over the place. Suddenly, I had something called e-mail, and the college asked me what I wanted as my address. I could choose from virtually ANYTHING, so I took a day to figure out what I wanted.

romeo_juliet_name_quote_stickers-rffa76c82b5df4d69acf0cf3374e1a148_v9waf_8byvr_512It wasn’t an easy choice, either. Most people I knew were using some variation of their first name, their last name, or some combination thereof, while a few used a generic nickname with some numbers attached for good measure. Of course I wanted to be different; I wanted to have an e-mail address that stood out from all the others, so I decided to go with “roach@astro.ocis.temple.edu.”

I have absolutely no idea why I went with “roach.” I detest those bugs with every fiber of my being, but I thought it would make an impression. In fact, I used to tell a story that I was part of a punk band called the 12 Roaches, but that was patently untrue. It did explain the address, though, so I stuck with it. And when it came time to interact with others on-line I took on the persona of The “Roach,” this person who was too cool to let others know his real name.

That’s when it hit me: a name is powerful. Continue reading “What’s in a Name?”

I Should Have At Least Called

breakup-heartsI broke up with a girl. On Valentine’s Day. Over e-mail. I know. It was bad. I knew it at the time, too, but I felt like I didn’t have any choice in the matter. She was obsessed.

Unrequited love, I know thee well old friend. I had been on the other side of it for so long it felt utterly strange to have someone want me in a way I didn’t want her. And as such, I had absolutely no idea how to deal with it. I know, this isn’t make you feel any better about what I did and how I did it, but I didn’t know another way.

We met at the Temple University Library, in the reference section. No, it wasn’t the premier hangout spot on campus, over by the microfiche machines, but it was where we both happened to be at the time. You see, she worked in that dusty archive, and I was a slave to the circulation desk upstairs, on a mission at the time to find something for a patron. I have no clue what it was after all this time, but suffice it to say I had a question about microfiche. And we met.

I would say that our eyes met across the room and we clicked instantly, but I would be lying. She was mousy and I was gangly. We both wore glasses so that meant we were supposed to be together, right? Obviously in her mind we were. I found out later that she had her eye on me since I first started working at the library, and had just been looking for her opportunity to talk to me. Oh boy.

It wasn’t like I was drowning in dates, though, so we went out. And it wasn’t horrible. Seriously, it ended in us holding hands, which was sweet, but which was also initiated by her, and I would have felt bad telling her no. That it was too soon. That I was completely unsure if there should be a second date. Yet there was, and a third, and a fourth. All because I didn’t know how to approach her to say that I didn’t want to be her boyfriend. Continue reading “I Should Have At Least Called”

The Haunting

The old playground is usually empty this time of day, especially after Old Man Farthing hung himself with an extension cord from the swing apparatus a year ago last Tuesday. They say his ghost still haunts the swings on occasion, the village gossips do, Verena Stone and Jill Swingholm. The two of them sit on … Continue reading The Haunting

Dear E-mail

I love that Vincent guy

Dear E-mail;

I have been instructed that I need to use you more often for things that resemble letters that I must send out to my friends, far and wide. About fifteen years ago I used you in the form of AOL’s free month of service. I remember they had all these amazing chat rooms and things called groups that I could join. It made me feel like part of a community, and everyone had these really cute e-mail addresses that ended with @aol.com. Even cooler was if I sent another AOLer an e-mail I could leave off that last part and just send it to sensualkitty, or to newyork69. That made things tons easier.

And then in college I had that super-cool @temple.edu address that was pretty easy to remember too, even though that’s also when I started getting something called Spam. I didn’t know what it was at first. I mean, the people who sent it knew my name, and the sites I would visit most. It was almost like they were psychic. “Hey Sam!” they would start, but then there were things about erectile dysfunction and applying to distance learning programs instead of the personal e-mail message I thought I was getting from innocuous names like Cindy, Bill, and Jennifer. Continue reading “Dear E-mail”

@The Bagel Grove

Black hair peppered with gray, eyes still wide open. Accent clipped, like former military. Mouth full of bagel. Moustache similarly peppered, the gray almost a muted black in and of itself. It hasn’t been around long. He chews with his mouth closed firmly, even though his older friend is talking out the side of his … Continue reading @The Bagel Grove