Because “Dick Quivers” is only an alias
I recently read something on an entrepreneurial blog by some guy whose name I forget about the importance of building your own brand. His first piece of advice was to own your Google search results. I typed his name (which I was only kidding about forgetting) into Google, and lo and behold, his blog was the first thing that popped up. So, his advice seems to be sound.
However, if you Google my name, Peter Lynn, the results aren’t as optimal. As I’ve complained, there’s evidently a much more famous Peter Lynn in New Zealand who manufactures kites, and he’s the number one Google result for my name. Take my word for it; I don’t want you to get sidetracked while checking for yourself and in so doing, go away and do something else. (Otherwise, I would have used the idiom “go fly a kite.”)
If I’m going to own my Google results, I need to either get rid of this other guy or change my name. Since I get the feeling that my murdering the other Peter Lynn will only result in headlines about his mysterious disappearance that clog up the Google results, the second one might be easier. I may have to give up my current theme song (which goes, “Peter Lynn / Rock you like a hurricane!”), but I’m prepared to make this sacrifice.
The entrepreneurial blog gave an example of someone who changed to his middle name in order to achieve this aim. I’m not crazy about this idea, though. It’s taken me long enough to learn to come when I’m called by my current first name; just ask my girlfriend, who’s always trying to talk to me from a different room whenever I’m at the computer, with a low success rate. If I stopped going by “Peter”, I’d just stop noticing when people were calling my name. Also, “Peter” is my father’s middle name and was his own father’s pet name for my grandmother for obscure but possibly homoerotic reasons. This reportedly led to her outrage at the “stealing” of her name when I was born, even though she didn’t seem to have a problem with lending it to her own son as a middle name and my own use of it was, as we will see, mostly coincidental. I don’t fully understand what went on here, but to be safe, I’d better hold on to the “Peter” part to spite my now-deceased grandmother.
So, there’s the option of going by my full name, which presents a problem, as I was named after the children’s song “Peter and James and John in a Sailboat,” a Christian parable about futility in which the disciples fished all night without so much as a nibble only to have Christ come along and fill their nets so full of fish that they broke. (Thanks for nothing, Jesus.) Peter and James and John in a Sailboat Lynn is, I’ve learned, a bit of a mouthful. I tried going by this in high school for a bit, but it never caught on. “PAJAJAISL” made for lousy monogrammed handkerchiefs anyway.
For legal and space-saving reasons, my name was truncated to Peter James Lynn, but I don’t like the idea of using all three names, because I don’t like the three most common types of people who tend to do this: pretentious authors, assassins, and the three sons from Home Improvement. I’ll explain my objections to each of these groups in turn:
First, pretentious authors: The three-name thing is just such an artsy-fartsy “look at me” tactic. They might as well insert the words “Serious Writer” in the middle of their names. For example, I haven’t read Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer, but I just want to smack him in the face for his pretentious name (and pretentious title). I have read the work of Bret Easton Ellis, and I want to smack him in the face too. But that has nothing to do with his name. I just can’t stand the way he abuses italics. I’m amazed he doesn’t insist on italicizing his middle name: Bret Easton Ellis.
Second, assassins: Apart from the obvious one (all the murdering, which isn’t that much of a problem given my initial solution of getting rid of the other Peter Lynn), I have another issue with these fellows: They’re a bit misnamed. The name is thought to derive from Hashashin, the plural form of “hashish user” and the original assassins were religious zealots who were said to carry out their killings under the influence of psychoactive drugs (the same way Bret Easton Ellis writes). Nowadays, the word is generally applied to just about anybody who kills a public figure, usually for political purposes. That’s fine, but wouldn’t it have been even more accurate to adapt the word ninja for this purpose? Ninjas are a lot like assassins, except that their killings didn’t have as much of a religious component and they didn’t get half-baked before doing it. This is what makes the title of the 2009 martial arts film Ninja Assassin so redundant. (Also, not only would this movie have been a lot better if it had been about a ninja who likes to smoke hash, but it also would have been a perfect vehicle for Tommy Chong — kind of like an Enter the Ninja crossed with Up in Smoke.) Since they’re basically the same thing, I’m just going to go ahead and refer to John Wilkes Booth as a ninja from now on.
Third, the three sons from Home Improvement: I can easily believe that Jonathan Taylor Thomas had to go by all three names because there was already a John Thomas in the Screen Actors Guild. (Most likely, this other John Thomas was an adult film actor, but I think that still gets you a SAG card.) What I don’t believe is that Zachery Ty Brian and Taran Noah Smith had to go by trinomial nomenclature because other actors had gotten there first. As for the former, the misspelling “Zachery” ought to have been enough to distinguish him from any of the more literate Zachary Brians walking around Hollywood, and as for the latter, as common a name as “Smith” is, the only other Taran is the assistant pig-keeper from The Black Cauldron, so no confusion there. Most likely, the other two saw that JTT went by three names (or initials, if pressed for time), and wanted to be unique just like him. The problem is that their names didn’t have anything close to the euphonious rhythm of “Jonathan Taylor Thomas”, which rolls right off the tongue, and they clearly weren’t designed to ever be read or pronounced in full all at once. Their parents ought to have stepped in and disallowed these shockingly clumsy stage names or, better yet, given them less regrettable names in the first place.
If I were to go by my full legal name, I could most likely expect (a) a Oprah Book Club mention, (b) a lengthy prison term, or (c) a Christmas card from Tim Allen. I’m not sure I want any of these things. What I could do, however, is undercut the pretension of using three names by infixing an intensifier into my name instead of using an actual middle name.
For example, my girlfriend has been trying to talk me into putting “Peter Fucking Lynn” atop my resume for quite a while, explaining, “they’ll know you mean business and that you’re extreme.” Her logic is undeniable; however, putting an actual swear word into my name may hurt my goal of improving my Google search results. Right now, the top result for that particular string is a steamy shower scene featuring adult film stars Peter North and Ginger Lynn Allen. I’m pretty sure that this would be blocked on most work computers, and I don’t want to take the chance of getting filtered out along with it.
Other options include “Peter Friggin’ Lynn”, “Peter Freakin’ Lynn” and “Peter F’n Lynn” (“Peter Frickin’ Lynn is not an option because talking like Mike Myers stopped being funny about ten years ago), but the apostrophe could prove problematic in each case. I am, however, now considering giving my yet-to-be-born son a double-barreled middle name like “Felix Nathaniel” so that he could be legally named something like “Peter F.N. Lynn”, which would be awesome.
It turned out, however, that I’ve been thinking too hard about this: There’s another intensifier that I can use that I’ve been associated with for years: “ruddy”, a mild form of “bloody”. Since my friend Scott started signing up for junk mail to be sent to my address under the improbable name “Ruddy Ruddy” several years ago, about which I’ve written extensively, “Ruddy Ruddy” has become my default moniker when signing up to various online fora, despite the existence of my many other pseudonyms for various situations. While the repeating name has been used by authors, assassins, and Home Improvement characters alike (Jerome K. Jerome, Sirhan Sirhan, and Wilson Wilson, in decreasing order of my admiration for their work), actually going by “Ruddy Ruddy” in my day-to-day life is a tough assignment.
But a quick Googling of “Peter Ruddy Lynn” shows that I already own the top Google results for that search string. Even if you throw the word “kite” in there, I still win. If you throw the words “steamy shower scene” in there, I don’t win yet, but I promise you that I soon will.
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