Bless You, Sparky

On a Monday night in third grade in the Catechism classes of St. Rita’s church in Holly, Michigan, Ronnie Haslem — the first boy who’d ever kissed me — opened his chubby fist and I gasped. It was a piece of notebook paper. It was a little damp — Ronnie had ferreted it away in … Continue reading

The importance of being Ernie, not Ernest, or, How nicknames make legends

Now think again of the legends. Think of their names – their nicknames, infinitely more powerful and weighted with meaning than their given names.

The Great One. The Intimidator. The Great Bambino.

Now think of the names of the men who hope to be legends, or who played hard enough to perhaps, one day, be a footnote to legendary days:

The Perfect Storm. The Answer. Little Ball of Hate. King James. Prince Albert.

Now think of the great athletes of our time, and how devoid they are of excellent, aspirational names: Miggy. Manny. A-Rod. K-Rod. And so on and so forth.

None of these men will ever be great men (here I am reminded of the absurd song from Gang of Four) so long as their names offer no direction, nothing to become (an intimidator, a bearer of greatness) and begin no prophetic cycle of legend.

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