There’s a favorite story I read some time ago about a man who was expecting J.P. Morgan to visit his home. He lined up his small children and said to them “Mr. Morgan has a very, very large nose. Please, please do not comment on it when you meet him.”
There came a knock on the door and there stood the financial giant. The host gathered his children to meet him and began with, “Children, I would like to present Mr. Nose.”
I don’t know why I thought of that particular anecdote the other day but it reminded me of how, throughout my life, I’ve sort of given people names other than the ones they were given when they were born.
For example, when I first moved to California, I spent my creative writing time in my bedroom since that had the best ocean view and I felt that was “inspiring.” There was a balcony there and I usually kept the door open to circulate fresh air and possibly stimulate my aging brain. Directly below me and across the street I soon learned there was another work-at-home individual. Unfortunately for me, he conducted virtually all his business on his cell phone, on his balcony. The first time I heard him I got up to see from where this noisy distraction was coming, since the neighborhood acoustics were such that I could clearly hear everything he said. When I looked down, I realized he didn’t have a stitch on. Nary a pair of boxers, tightie whities or a bathing suit. Nada. I quickly ran back into my room before he spotted me (although I doubt he would have been embarrassed) and hence was born “Ugly Naked Guy.”
Ugly Naked Guy occasionally would put something on, but never, ever a shirt. He still looked naked. I got so familiar with his business transactions that one day I came very close to telling him he could not schedule a meeting on a particular date and time since I knew he had already scheduled something for then. I always wondered if he dressed for those meetings.
I was distraught when he eventually moved because my daily source of amusement was removed…although I did appreciate the quiet.
In that same neighborhood also lived “Black Ninja” a woman who never wore anything except black pants and a black sleeveless turtleneck…and I could never understand that; why would you wear a sleeveless turtleneck? “Ugly Fat Guy” who insisted on wearing ill-fitting shorts all year round and he had legs uglier than mine… and “Crazy Sheltie Lady” who was this woman who had two Sheltie dogs and walked around talking to herself and the dogs and was known to leave mildly threatening letters on various people’s doorsteps for imaginary transgressions. (Fortunately, I never was the recipient…I kept a low profile there.)
Then there were my “favorite” neighbors referred to simply as “The Aliens.” The reason for this nickname was the fact that they not only had lined their windows with tinfoil but also installed an over-sized satellite dish. They would sometimes appear on their balcony at night with laser lights which they pointed here and there. They were very peculiar and that led me to believe that they were trying to contact their galactic homeland.
Now I have to consider this question: Since I make up so many names for people, how many people have made up some kind of a name for me?
I don’t dare ask.