Independence Day 2004
As I approach my 2nd half century this September, I have a confession to make. Ever since I could speak my name, I have been living a lie. As a boy,
when asked what my name was, I would say "Jack Gillman." Mind you, I
thought I was telling the truth. After all, ever since I was born I was
called Jackie, Jack, Jackson, (or Jack the Wack by my siblings). Why
wouldn’t I think that Jack, or a variation of it, was my name? It wasn’t
until my first day of Kindergarten that I had my day of reckoning.
All the children were sitting on the floor in front of a very seasoned Miss Moore. Parents were seated in chairs behind us, close by for support. Miss Moore called out the name of each child, who then answered and got up to receive his/her name card. The roll call was going very smoothly until the
name Jon Gillman was announced. I paid no mind. I didn’t know any Jon Gillman. Miss Moore repeated the name, asking Jon to please stand up and get his name card. I was the fourth and last of the Gillman children in her kindergarten and she knew that I was indeed the child in question.
Who is this masked Zorro?
Why, it's 7-year old Stand-Up Chameleon
"Jack the Wack."
looked straight at me and repeated the name loudly, perhaps thinking I had a
hearing problem. At this point, I noticed my parents gesturing to me to get
up and get my name card. Who me? What? She didn’t call my name…
I don’t recall what happened after that until later that day when I was
home. My three older siblings heard about me not knowing my real name and
probably thought it quite amusing. I suspect that I was fairly traumatized
since I could not, or would not, say the name Jon. One of my earliest,
vivid memories of childhood, was being surrounded by my siblings, and having
them try to coach me on how to say "Jon." They broke it down for me.
"Unn." "Now put it all together – just say Jon."
You might think that I am making this up, or punching up the story a bit for
effect, but this is the gospel truth, according to Juh—ahh--unn, or whatever
the hell my name was.
I don’t know if I suffered any permanent scars from this early identity
crisis. Perhaps it helps explain my choice of career as "the Stand-Up
Chameleon" who takes on many other personas? I don’t know. But I do know
that Miss Moore ended up calling me Jack as did all my teachers and everyone
who knew me. The one notable exception was Dr. Adolf Millman, my
pediatrician, who always called me Jon Evan. So, for the rest of my life I
ignored my official birth certificate name, even on IRS returns and other
legal documents. I figured if I used Jackson consistently on everything, it
would become legally accepted, kind of like a common-law marriage.
I actually have had no legal problems for nearly five decades. That is
until I tried to get a passport this year. It may surprise my more worldly
friends to know that while I have traveled extensively throughout the US,
Canada, and even the Virgin Islands, I never had occasion to need a
passport. But the time has come for this provincial lad to broaden his
horizons. In the process of trying to get this passport however, I have been
unable to prove that I am who I am. In fact, this name change process has
become quite an ordeal because I can't produce any picture ID with my legal
name on it to get the proper forms notarized. Talk about a Catch-22. In
this age of hyper-vigilance and the Patriot Act, name discrepancies just
don’t cut it. Not caring to increase my chances of ending up in Guantanamo
Bay, I realized that something must be done. And I’m tired of this charade.
So, what to do?
I’ve decided that it is time to officially change my name. To what though? Here’s my chance to define myself, once and for all. I have decided to go with a hip one-syllable moniker... (drum roll please, followed by a badum- chick rimshot)... Duke! It’s really not that odd if you think about it. Look at the high-profile celebrities out there for whom it’s worked: Sting, Cher, Prince. Speaking of whom, if I ever change my mind, I can pull another one of those "artist formerly known as Duke" trips to keep people buzzing about me. Whadyathink?
Okay, now you know I’m kidding, but NOT about any of the earlier background. That truly is the Gospel according to Jackson, which as of a
July 13, 2004 court hearing, is indeed official. If you don’t believe me, just check my amended birth certificate, my new Social Security card, or my official Soupy Sales Fan Club membership card. Alright, the last one’s a fib, but I can now go through life knowing that when I die, there won’t be any questions regarding my life insurance policy, or how my obituary will read. Hopefully, that won’t be too soon. I’m looking forward to as much of a second half century that an honest chameleon can survive.
Duke, I mean Jax, or whoever -- just don't call me Late For Dinner
(my daughter loves that last one)
(click on the image fopr a larger version.)