“Yeah” I shrugged
“It’s just that we get a lot of fake names.”
“Trust me, if I’m gonna give you a fake name, it would not be Darwin.”
“I guess” She smiled.
It is not easy living with a politically-charged historical name and quite common for me to have to say my name repeatedly before people understand. Once, when I was meeting my spouse-at-the-time’s 90-year-old devout Christian grandmother, I said it four times before the light of understanding came to her face, to which she simply waved her hand dismissively and said, “Oh that fellow who played with the monkeys.” I just let it go. You cannot win an argument with a 90 year old.
A pair of Jehovah’s Witnesses once darkened my door one fine Saturday morning and they wanted me to read the latest Watchtower. I was trying to be nice, have compassion for the confused and delusional and in the politest way possible explain that they were wasting their time, but the older lady, who was in full sales pitch mode and perhaps providing a teachable moment for her younger companion, remained completely oblivious to my body language, my expression, everything. She said, “You really should check out this issue. It features an article about that silly business of evolution and explains how it is all a lie.” With almost perfect comedic timing in a moment so serendipitous that it could not be refused she asked me, without pausing for a breath, “What did you say your name was again?” With a big grin on my face I told her and it quite flustered her and disrupted her well practiced pitch and she said, “Oh dear! Oh my. I…I…I suppose we should be going.”
The religious zealots don’t bother me much (“It don’t make no nevermind.”) as I’ve gotten quite used to them. What is worse, the most annoying response to hearing my name upon meeting someone new, is the association to the now famous Darwin Awards. Warning: If we have just met and your first response to hearing my name is to bring up the Darwin Awards, I will not think less of you, I will not think I’m a better person than you, I will simply know that I am smarter than you. The reason is because you have gone your whole life, grade school, college perhaps or technical school, entered the workplace and your first and, most worrisome possibly only, association with the name made famous by the brilliant biologist and naturalist, author and man who revolutionized life sciences at least equal to Einstein’s contribution to physics, is some story you read on the internet about the demise of a guy tying himself to the underbelly of his truck and getting his friend to drive down the highway so he can check out a funny noise his transmission makes at 60 mph.
Even with all this, it never before occurred to me to duck all the controversy and use a fake name, and so in response, I am now declaring my new ‘Starbucks Name’ to be Thor. If you mess with Thor’s low-fat grande latte with extra foam, there will be big trouble—trouble that is likely to involve some kind of a hammer. Thor has had a long day you know. Those villages don’t just raid and pillage themselves.