This place is pretty well packed tonight. The lights are low, and the music is loud, which is good. Loud music means less talking. Talking is bad, because it requires introductions. And introductions mean I have to say it. “Hi, my name is Purvis.”
Yep, Purvis. I know what you’re thinking. “What kind of name is that?” I know, right? The first thing people use to size you up, the way they remember you, the key to the very door into your soul, and my parents choose Purvis. Really?
I guess I could understand it if I were named for some legendary ancestor like a General Purvis Augustus, leader of Allied Forces on some beach in Normandy. Or maybe a Reverend Purvis Leonidas, fearless missionary taking God to naked natives up and down the Amazon. But alas, there are no such heroes in my family tree.
I used to wonder if maybe I was named for that FBI guy who nabbed Dillinger. Turns out Purvis was actually the name of the gardener who worked for my grandmother. He sculpted topiaries of Bible characters. Apparently, his juniper Jesus was so lifelike that people would come from miles around to pray to it. And here I am, a testament to his horticultural moxy.
Hey, there’s that group of girls from HR down the hall. They already know my name, I think. I could just skip the whole introduction part. Oh wait. There’s those guys from Sales. OK, never mind. I’ll let them have a chance. They probably all have really cool names anyway. Some of them probably even have great nicknames too. I always envied guys with great nicknames. My friend Nathan Canasta played football. His number was 50. So “Five Oh” became his name for the rest of high school. Richard Barefoot was Native American, the only Native American we knew. So we called him “Chief.”
So why couldn’t I get one of those names? I was cool. Right? I knew things. I did stuff. But nothing ever stuck. I used to write names on my notebooks to try them out. I wrote “Big Show” and then “Full House,” but I’m just over five feet tall and 120 pounds with my Sunday shoes on. I also considered “Lefty” and “John Deere,” but I’m right handed, and I’ve never actually seen a tractor in real life. In the end, I’m just a tragically vanilla, homogeneous human being with absolutely no distinguishing characteristics save one . . . the name “Purvis.”
Look who just sat down at the other end of the bar. That’s the girl I saw last week, the one with the curly hair. I can’t tell in here, but I think she might be hot. Then again, it’s really dark. I might chance it and walk over. But what would I say?
“Excuse me, would you like some nuts?” No, that won’t work.
“From over there you looked pretty, so I just wanted to come over and make sure you weren’t really ugly close up.” No, better let that one go too.
If I only had a name like Fred or Ralph or something. Then I could just say “Hi, I’m Fred or Ralph or something.”
I guess I could use my middle name, Arthur. Or maybe just Art. But then again, art is what you hang on a wall or make in preschool with macaroni and Elmer’s Glue. And I certainly can’t shorten my first name. “Purv.” Nope, I don’t think so. One time I considered combining a short version of my first and middle names. But then I thought it through. “Purv Art.” Are you kidding me? Mom, Dad, how much do you hate me?
“What’ll it be tonight, kid?” That’s the bartender. I think his name is Stan, or maybe Dan.
Dan’s a nice guy. He works a lot. Always here when I come in.
“Hey Dan, you got a nickname?”
“Yeah. It’s Stan.”
“Oh, right. Sorry.”
Hey, when did Jackson come in? “Hey! Jackson, my man! What’s up? Huh? Oh, yeah. Sure. Well, I’ll just be over here. Keep it real, man.”
Jackson runs the sandwich cart on the corner by the office. Now Jackson, that’s a real name. Like “action,” only Jackson. That guy’s gonna go places with a name like that.
But not me. I’m just gonna sit here at this bar and watch all these well-named individuals go about their happy lives while I waste away in the intoxicating wash of Near Beer. Just me, the Purv-meister. The Purvinator. Potent. Powerful. Purvilicious.
I’ve got to get a new name.