I don’t like my name. I never have. When I was 13 I told my parents I wanted to change it to something “cool”. There were no other Lances in my life. I was tired of hearing Lance Crackers, Lance has ants in his pants (accurate but annoying to withstand), Lance Romance (at 13 it couldn’t have been further from the truth), and Lancey schmancey (popular with girls who didn’t find Lance Romance to be remotely possible). I played sports and occassionally hung out with a kid named Bo. The weird thing was, his actual name was Howard Leroy but his nickname that his parents gave him was Bo. So my indignation was two-fold. This kid had a great nickname his parents dropped on him! My last name is also unusual but considerably plain. Don’t take this as an insult to my family or their name. I’m proud of my heritage but our name(s) just don’t zing, boom, pow, or pizazz anyone’s tongue or marquee.
When I went to college I was approached by my friends to get a fake ID. I was 18 but looked 14. I had issues getting booze and entry into bars. When my buddies told me that if all five of us went in together, the criminal mastermind would reduce to price from 20 dollars per card to 15 dollars, I said yes. I was saving money and I could be someone else. It was the first time in my life I used the ridiculous phrase “win-win”. I punched myself in the face immediately after.
I attended the University of Alabama. Behind a dormitory was a printing shop, the name of which escapes me, 23 years later. We counted out our cash and realized we were short by a few dollars. I volunteered to go fifth, which meant I had a few minutes to run down the street to write a check for extra money. The entire time I thought about what I was going to pick as my name. I was an aspiring writer. I imagined bylines and book jackets with my name on them and none looked good with the name my parents bestowed. As the woman behind the counter cashed my check, I decided on my new name; Silas Bane. Yeah, I know, sounds masculine and unforgettable, right? I was 18, work with me.
I walked into the back of the seedy set up. My four friends had their new IDs. All of them possessed awesome pseudonyms. One of my friends’ ID showed Richard Razor. I punched him too. I stood in front of the camera, the jerk took my picture. Before I had a chance to say anything, the card was in hand, it read Chad T. Hines. Are you kidding me? I threw the card down and demanded he make another one. Then I realized this guy was a borderline gangster and my friends toted me out of the place with my crappy fake identification in the back pocket of my stone washed jeans.
A few weeks later I sat in my English class and started tearing out the pages of my notebook where I had written Silas Bane and other names I daydreamed. Once, an instructor had us write something using a pen name. I scribbled Chad T. Hines at the top of the page and took my B+ with pride. Chad bought beer. Chad talked to a few pretty girls in bars. Chad had his own college radio show. Finally, in 1992, after being 21 for a full year and not needing the use of Chad’s name, I quit using Chad T. Hines.
Have you ever used a pen name? If you could change your name, what would it be? Silas Bane and Chad T. Hines are taken. Try again, chumps.
******blogger’s note******* This is my response to the writing challenge offered by Studio Thirty Plus aka http://www.studiothirtyplus.com/ . The prompt was “Write About Something You Quit”.
Today’s song is dumb but fun. I liked The Tings Tings first record. Yet this song is kind of silly. It fits the story. Plus, some of you will get happy to it. Here’s the Ting Tings’ That’s Not My Name: