Everyday Inspiration Exercise Day #1: Assignment: “I write because___________”
Where I come from, people are big on nick-names. As I think back on my youth, I recall that I’ve had several. The first I ever got was “Louie”, given by my dad who hails from the mid-west where, I’ve since learned that this is the “go to” name for a male child. My sister….”Spanky”. Being born and raised in Texas, this is a weird convention but at least it’s not boring. The next one that I remember: “Blake the Snake”, I got at the Bragg Stockton baseball camp that used to come through Whitehouse TX every summer. This is where I learned the fundamentals of the swing which gave me the ability to average around .350 in the Rose Capital Little League and secured my spot in the top of the lineup for several years. Then when I got up into eighth or ninth grade my smart aleck friends dubbed me “Salad” because it rhymed with my last name. It was a little annoying but this is coming from guys named Rochigallo (because he looked Hispanic, though he wasn’t), Clay-bot (…not sure but I think he named himself), Jeff-fro (thin hair) and Roge or better still Roggie-Poggie-Puddin’ Poge.
Then, when I got my first job, I worked at the Country Club where I was one of 5 bus-boys. The first, the head bus-boy, was a big guy in his 30’s and was occasionally slightly terroristic towards the other four skinny teenaged kids. This was Kenny who gave me the nick-name “Slothy Gonzalez”. Kenny wasn’t dangerous, just a little bit of a bully. I don’t even believe that he disliked me because I had a buddy, Pete, who lived in a townhouse on a nondescript street not too far from the club. Apparently, Kenny also knew someone in that neighborhood because, over the course of a year or two, on a dozen or so occasions, as I was parking and walking up to the house, Kenny happened by in his little compact foreign car, cruising with a gangsta’ lean and stereo up loud (we all rode in this style back in the day…middle class white boys included). When he saw me, Kenny always flashed me the peace sign and I waved back, so there was no animosity. I had come on staff just after the 3rd guy Jason, who I had played baseball with in the RC little league for several years. Jason was not quite as skinny as me and probably an inch taller which contributed to his home run hitter style while I was all about the level swing, line drives and gettin’ on base. At “The Club”, There was also a guy named Rob, who was the head waiter in the formal dining room, caucasian, mid-40’s with a snarky attitude, clean shaven except for a cartoonish waiter’s moustache, super serious when it came to wine pairings and presentation, and had the habit of rushing around like a chicken with his head cut off in spite of the fact that, at a country club, the waiters never really get “slammed” because; 1) there’s never enough business, and 2) the bus boys do half the work. The way that I acquired the nickname “Slothy”, is related to my own state of mind and the chill way that I moved through the world in my teenage years, most of the time getting stuck inside my own head and not really paying close attention to what was going on around me (that’s the creative curse/blessing). However, for the name to really make sense, you need Rob for contrast. Rob was entertaining to watch because he moved so fast, it was like speed walking…on speed (the Speedy to my Slothy…although he was never actually so nick-named. He was just Rob). He would come out of the kitchen around the privacy wall and nearly bowl people over. This was especially funny if Pamela were the one on the other side of the wall as Rob came barreling out. Pam was another server, caucasian, late 20’s – early 30’s, a mother of one, kind of petite but with a passive aggressive demeanor, a loud voice, and the body language to match. The reason the Rob/Pam combo was so hilarious was that she had no depth perception. If you heard Pam coming in from the other room, you could (and I would 🙂 ) stand real close to the wall and as soon as she came in, casually step out and yell “Hey Pam!” and wave your arm in front of her face. She’d buckle backwards like she just went through a time warp and suddenly landed in front of a flaming limbo pole. Ha Ha Ha! Was it mean? Weeellll, since we had co-workers who were terroristic, who talked trash about everyone else, were not above berating others when in the mood, and another couple were like something straight out of the ganster movie “White Heat” (Top O’ the World Ma!) and the GM wore a countenance like he was looking for somebody to fire… it’s all relative. We were dysfunctional but got along pretty good. Anyways, one day, Kenny called me Slothy Gonzalez in front of some of the other servers who started to snicker. So I inquired as to what was up with the nickname. He said, “You know what a Sloth is don’t cha”? And I mumbled, “Uh…they’re a big ass animal that climbs around in trees?” To which Kenny replied, laughing, “Ya! and they’re slower ‘N shit”! Everyone got a good laugh about it and I became Slothy from that point forward for about two years. I didn’t care; lots of people at work had a nick-name. It was the way of “The Club”. Besides, it could have been worse. I could have been “Body”. The sous-chef of diminutive stature.
So….after I bailed on that gig, I took a job at a local restaurant chain and worked as a server alongside lots of other optimistic go-getters in our late teens and early 20’s. What you may not know if you don’t live in a border state, is that there are a lot of people who move from south of the border in order to find a better life. One of the main industries they work in is food services. Which means that in Texas, we have a lot of Spanish speaking folks working in the kitchens of most restaurants and some of them don’t speak English to good (not that I do). This is the source of my next nick-name which was given me by a middle aged Mexican woman who worked the line at the sea-food joint where I slung lobster for tips. She didn’t speak English and as my food came up on the line she, naturally, relied on her native tongue when pronouncing the string of letters B-L-A-K-E listed on the ticket. So for a while there, I answered to the new moniker “Blah-Kay”. One time, after calling out the order in her usual fashion, another server became indignant because she had ignorantly butchered my name. I never cared though because after all, as we’re taught… what’s in a name? I never corrected the woman. She was just doing her job, which people from south of the border take seriously. So…I let it ride.
Throughout my youth, there have been several other nicknames but the high points are listed above. Maybe I haven’t been very sensitive to the bad ones because at an early age, I got used to people butchering my last name. In elementary school, any time we had a substitute teacher, they would invariably get it wrong when calling the role. You’d think that it would make me feel like an outsider but in hindsight, it did just the opposite. It turned out to be quite fun for 7 year olds. After a year or two, when my classmates and I became part of “the club” at Andy Woods Elementary, each time the role was called by a sub, all of the girls in the class would sound off in unison with the correct pronunciation! Does that mean I was popular?
If the gauge is the number of nicknames you’ve had in your life, then I’d say I’m pretty damn popular. Here are a few others, just for reference: I have been “Blakus”, “B-lake”, and more recently, working in the TV business, I now have a Director that likes to call me “Blakely”. He thinks it bothers me but as you can see from the story above…if you want to ruffle my feathers, you’re going to have to try harder than that DARREN (AKA – “The Big D”). So, that brings me to my point. I was thinking about what I should go by on the interwebs and started brainstorming all of my AKA’s and found one that I think fits the bill. I picked it because it’s simple, un-assuming and for someone who exists on the web via his B-logs and V-logs (forth-coming) it stands to reason that B-lake is the way to go. If you like it…do give me a holler in the comments section, a share, or a quick “like” at the bottom of the page…much appreciated.
P.S. – I’m a scatterbrain and I often wander aimlessly off the path of the assignment? Meh…I’m ok with it. For my good faith effort in the 11th hour, here ya go: “I write because cool stuff happened and I don’t want to forget who I was, who I am or who I’m going to be”.
Have a great day Y’all.