Who Are You?


I woke up on a Tuscaloosa barroom floor and the policeman knew my name. Twenty years ago, this week, I started the last full semester of my University of Alabama career. I was famous. Sort of. I can explain.

For over six years, from 1988 to 1994, I worked in radio and television  as a news and sports reporter, disc jockey, and play by play announcer for baseball and women’s basketball. In my fiefdom of Tuscaloosa and Birmingham Alabama, people knew me by name. What did with that name when my back was turned? Well, go find their blogs. The life a lower than semi-famous media personality in the 139th market in 1992 was a few notches short of glamorous. An almost blog worthy story happened one night in the Oasis bar, made famous by Garth Brooks’ country song, Friends in Low Places. People assume that because the anti-christ of 90s pop country wrote a song about a bar, then the Oasis must have been a swanky joint. Not even close, kids. One letter of the Oasis was always broken. It was usually the i, which says a lot.

When the officer woke me by saying “Hey you’re Lance Burson from the radio, right? Well,  you gotta go home.” It stirred me into realizing that I couldn’t even get arrested in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, because people knew me.

Yesterday I sat with two women from my daughter’s cheerleading team. For an hour and half we just talked like girlfriends about competition team breakfasts for the next ten or so saturday mornings and then we did our hair. Seriously, what struck me the most about the 90 minutes was my name wasn’t mentioned. Bobina’s husband, Tay’s father, “him”, but never a Lance was dropped. It occurred to me that after twenty years my identity had changed. People know who I am in many different ways, but the name has changed. By the way, I have another moniker, “Lanier High Longhorns Competition Cheer Squad Team Dad”. Recognize.

Earlier this morning I hit the “send” button on my master draft for The Ballad of Helene Troy. My editor, it sounds so cool to say I have an editor, is combing over the novel that has no author named to the manuscript. I forgot to put Lance Burson under the title. I hope my editor doesn’t assign Bobina’s husband, Tay’s father or Lanier Longhorns Team Dad to my author page. But if she does, you all will know who wrote the book.

Let’s take this song away from CSI. I stole my opening blog post line from a play on the opening one from this tune. Crank The Who’s Who Are You for six minutes…GO


30 thoughts on “Who Are You?

  1. I love how time changes both who we are to ourselves (in our cases, positively I think), and our public identities.

    I think there’s only one public identity that I wish I still had, and that was Kayak Girl. For a season, I kayaked back and forth to work on a north-south stretch of the San Francisco bay. It sounds cooler than it really was… I mean, it’s not like I was in open water… really I was kayaking in at most 10 feet of water over mudflats close to the shore. Regardless, I became somewhat locally famous for it. I loved that attention (silly me). After that season I moved and no longer lived on the water, and sold my kayak. There went my claim to fame. Ah well. 😉

    But back to you… what an incredible accomplishment! I was thinking yesterday how cool it must be to be able to say “my editor,” I’m happy that you confirmed my suspicion. 😉 And I’m glad that to me, your name is That Robot Guy With His Lovely Ladies And His Totally Awesome Blog.

  2. I think that’s what our old friends our for…the people who,underneath the cheer gear and the minivans and the mortgages, can still see us as the drunks on the barroom floor. The ones who can tell you both who you are AND who you were are more valuable than any money.

    Go Lanier Longhorns!

  3. Lance, I know you’re a writer and you post lots of your fiction writing, but for me, these personal posts, that show your soft side, I love. I know, very girly of me. But you live with 4 women, so I’m sure you can understand. Here’s a thought: perhaps you should put all of your names on your author page?

  4. Welcome to the world of the anonymous mom! I was always either Jess or Kyle’s mom. I would bet that most of their friends never knew my actual first name. At least my husband was called ‘coach.’

    • Tar Rah, it used to make me angry. Now, I love it. I mean, I dig being Bobina, Tay, Bug and Goose’s husband and dad. It’s just hilarious. I used to want to be famous and have people know my name. Now, it’s just so different.

  5. It’s great to be at the point in our lives when “Cheerleader Dad” is as important a moniker as our real names.

    So cool about being able to refer to someone as “my editor”. I hope to get there some day. For me, I get all giddy when I have to return a call to “my producer” or “my stage manager”.

  6. I can really relate to this Lance. I spent 20 years on the air, and it was my son that told me he was tired of being referred to as k’s son, instead of people using his name. I had never really considered what that felt like until then. I started when he was 7, and he learned how to produce commercials, how to dub from various sources, and work the control board (I took him with me when he was young.) His friends were envious, but he just wanted to be known for who he was. When I started using a name other than my own, I became his mom to everyone, it was an interesting shift in perspective, and one I certainly did not mind.

    Congratulations on sending your book off to your editor enjoy the journey!

  7. I want to hear what lead up to your waking up on the barroom floor, unless it was the usual drunken antics of a college student/radio celeb person, in which case, I really want to hear about it! Yeah, the name thing is funny. For years, I was referred to by by ex-wife’s family as “your husband”. That was because of some old school thing that they didn’t talk to me directly. Interesting story!

  8. Aside from the fact that I was raised to believe that your sorry crimson tide ass is the antichrist of the trailer park and should be dispensed with forthwith at high noon on Toomer’s Corner, I do totally recognize. Unfortunately, the only name I made for myself in high school was a reference to how quickly my pants came off. So, “Jake and Andrew’s mom” is a huge step up.

  9. Gina

    I love the “Team Dad” moniker but I also love to know that you woke up on a barroom floor (hasn’t everyone? KIDDING!) Not that I’m nosy but I’m a curious person who likes to know, or figure out, why people are the way they are or what goes into making them “them”. Brings out the human. Long comment short…I love the personal stuff (although I’m certain it’s sanitized some for the public!). Loved this!

  10. Congrats on the editing, and on the new titles you’ve gained over the years- official cheer-squad-cheerer sounds pretty important to me :). One of my friends growing up took years (YEARS!) to stop calling my dad “Um… *tch* Lexy’s Dad?”… every time, the same um, tongue click, and ‘name’.

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