“Pleased to meet you — Dick Quivers.”
We recently got a new dog named Peewee. Whenever we introduce him to people (which turns out to be often, because people always inquire when we take him to the park, although they never ask our names), I feel vaguely compelled to apologize for this name, explaining that we got him when he was two years old and he was already named that. After all, two human years equal fourteen dog years, and it would be cruel to adopt a fourteen-year-old boy and change his name.
What I don’t do is use the joke I thought of before we adopted him—the joke that was in fact a main reason I agreed to adopt a dog named Peewee: “Oh, that? It’s a funny thing: When I found him, I was masturbating in a movie theater.”
Although I’ve missed many a chance to refer to the seamy underbelly of the children’s entertainment/adult movie theater industries, I did come up with an idea today while happening to glance under my panting dog’s belly, which is that my new alias will be Dick Quivers.
I briefly regretted not renaming the dog himself Dick Quivers. But frankly I think it’s wasted on him. People expect dogs to have slightly jokey names, although the appeal to me of a name like Dick Quivers is that it’s not so obviously jokey that it couldn’t be real, albeit very unfortunate. So, the next dog is getting a completely straight human name, including a surname different from my own, because I like the way it hints at a fuller life outside my own existence.
“What’s your dog’s name?” people will ask.
“Tom Bradford,” I’ll say.
“Oh … how long have you had him?” they’ll ask, clearly thrown off.
“Actually, it’s a girl,” my girlfriend will add.
No, I’m keeping Dick Quivers for myself, because I don’t really have a go-to alias. Over the years I’ve come up with many custom aliases for specific jobs. There’s my matinee idol name, Troy Rhodes. There’s my romance novelist name, Chastity Mountjoy. There’s my drug dealer name, “Good Time” Billy Ray, and my pimp name, Silky Jones. There’s my signatory-to-the-Declaration-of-Independence name, James Tyler Penn. But where’s my standard, one-size-fits-all, come-up-with-a-name-on the spot alias?
And it’s clear to me that I need one. Once, when I was a kid, I threw a snowball at a passing school bus, only to have the driver slam on the brakes, storm out of the bus, and demand my name. On the spot, I stammered that I was the posthumous winner of the 1976 Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Peter Finch. Well, I left my resume out of it, but I think we can agree that when selecting an alias you probably shouldn’t choose your actual first name and a last name that’s a soundalike of your real one. And picking a notable celebrity’s name compounds the error.
It’s a good thing for me that this was before Google. Today, he’d pull out his iPhone, then yell, “Bullshit! You weren’t in Network!” Fortunately for me, he probably just got back in his bus and fumed, “That kid is so dead. I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!“
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