The Clown and the Rakes—part 3

Ahoyhoy™,

I ended part two right after addressing my middle name. I’ve started editing it to incorporate suggestions and address criticism from readers: thank you so much for the feedback! I’m saving those edits for a complete draft of The Clown and the Rakes. Today, we’re moving onto my last name… (Like all my posts thus far, this is a draft, so I especially welcome feedback, criticism, or any productive engagement…)


The Clown and the Rakes—part 3

My last name is Appa’s given name. My brother’s last name is Appa’s given name. Amma’s last name is Appa’s given name. Appa’s last name is… his given name—but his legal first name is his (and should be our) actual family name… Are you confused yet? I am, and I’m writing this darn thing about my name… Perhaps writing things out name-by-name will help:

My legal first and last names are Roybert Henanigans.
My brother’s first and last names are Brobert Henanigans.
Amma’s first and last names are Mombert Henanigans.
Appa’s legal first and last names are Dadbert Henanigans.
However, Appa’s actual last name is Dadbert and his actual given name is Henanigans… So, our “correct” names should be Roybert Dadbert, Brobert Dadbert, Mombert Dadbert, and Henanigans Dadbert.

If that still didn’t clear things up, don’t feel bad: we still screw it up… Further confusing things, my extended family (from Appa’s side) has the same problem! Appa and his brothers legally share the same first name—Dadbert, but have different last names (their actual given names)… Why? I don’t know exactly why, but I’m too curious not to ask. Given how important names are, I just needed to know—so I asked around…

I asked Amma:

Why?

It was a mix-up while filling out refugee/immigration papers. Appa was asked for his "first" and "last" names—not for "given" and "family" names; so he listed the family name first and his given name second—as he was accustomed to. Once legalized, rectifying the error proved too difficult to be worth the effort.

I asked extended family members:

Why?

It's tradition.
                 It's a Sri Lankan Tamil cultural thing.
                                               Honestly, I don't  know…
         Your dad's better suited to answering this.
                     Please don't stir things up for your entertainment…

Reasons vary from one family member to the next. It even changes based on when I ask—so the same family member might not even answer the same way (or with as much certainty) from one day to the next. All those reasons could be true; they’re highly plausible, but they might all just sound plausible while not being true. My question remains unanswered. There’s no consistency. Well, that’s not completely true. Like most things in life, there’s always an exception:

I asked Appa:

Why?

Of course, of course, it's for you kids.

He’s implying that it got us into Canada, that should be enough! Now, in addition to “why?” I also wonder “what the—?!” However, I have learned was taught not to pry further. Turns out he’s also implying that I should keep quiet and move on…

Give him some credit though, he’s consistent. Few people are that consistent; he’s kept this up for decades… That consistency defines most of our interactions:

Appa, did you hear what Amma said?!
Of course, of course, it's for you kids.
Happy Father's Day Appa!
Of course, of course, it's for you kids.
Appa, where did you leave Chokka's dried liver treats?
Of course, of course, it's for you kids.

Perhaps he’s a little too consistent… Anyway, that’s the story behind my last name. I hope that’s cleared more up for you: for me, it answered nothing, and raised more questions…

Before I wrap things up—this post is long enough—I just remembered this isn’t the most important story involving my last name. That honour goes to stories revolving around two inconvenient traits of my last name: it’s fifteen letters long, and it’s romanized awkwardly… Sorry, I don’t know why I buried the lede… *cough* I mean I know exactly why:

Of course, of course, it's for you readers.

Thank you for your time,
Roybert S. Henanigans


P.S. 96: I’ve updated my Contact Me page explaining how you can help me if you choose to. This includes a messaging form, my gmail address, my Twitter account, and a donation button to my Ko-Fi page. I’ll update specifics gradually. If there’s one thing I could ask for above all else, I’d ask for two—then I’d use one of those two to say that the best way to help is to share my work with someone.

On a serious note, thank you so much for reading—it truly means the world to me!

Roysplainin’—The Clown and the Rakes (part 2)

Ahoyhoy™,

Continued from part 1


The Clown and the Rakes—part 2

Anyway, the rest of the pronoun-identity conversation is best saved for a different setting. I just used it to better frame the importance of names: they’re even more powerful than pronouns. Serious discussions about those topics are better addressed by others; you don’t show up for serious content from me though, right? Why would you expect a serious conversation from me anyway? That’s what I want to resolve:

Why do I treat everything like a joke or a game?

To answer this, I’ve decided to tell the origin story of Roybert—the name, not the person. (I realize how off topic this sounds,; I assure you it’s not…) Let’s begin!

NOTE: The usual content/trigger warnings still apply. (serious)

I was born unable to speak English. Instead, I spoke a more efficient, exotic language—arguably the most efficient: Waah! (yes, that includes the exclamation mark—you know, sorta like Wham!) It’s hyperefficient because it only has one word, but that one word puts in work. Here are the three core phrases in Waah!

  1. Yo, feed me! –> pronounced “Wah”
  2. Yo, clean up my shit! –> pronounced “Wah”
  3. Plebs, entertain me! –> pronounced “Wah”

See? Hyperefficient! Admittedly, its ambiguity hindered communication—though it’s a standard international language used exclusively by two life-warping demographics: babies and tyrants.

NOTE: Honestly, it's more like one demographic. Aren't babies really just socially acceptable tyrants? Or perhaps tyrants are socially unacceptable babies...

At the time I was a bit of both. Those were good times… I’ve since lost my touch; I can’t pull that off nowadays: I might get arrested or—even worse—cancelled…! Oh, the horror…

Ambiguity aside, the language suffered from other complications: it varied unpredictably. One day it was “Wah”; another time it was “Waaaah.” Sometimes it even incorporated nuanced gestures including—but not restricted to—*giggle*, and the terrifying *worry-instigating silence*… Understanding the fickle nature of the language, my parents seized control and chose my legal name for me—well, three legal names: my first name, my middle name, and my last name. Each one contains a unique backstory; each varies in importance. My first name’s by far most important, followed (distantly) by my last name, and finally my middle name. Due to privacy concerns (or at least for now), I’ll avoid using my legal middle and last names below—yet each one still merits discussion.

NOTE: Honestly, the actual names aren't even necessary for those stories; it's the stories that matter.

Let’s start with my middle name: it’s seven letters long. My parents used the last grapheme in Amma’s middle name and the first grapheme in Appa’s given name—in that order—to construct it. Nobody uses my middle name. It’s just there because it’s legally my middle name, plus the origin story’s kinda romantic, right?

NOTE: அம்மா (Amma) means mom; அப்பா (Appa) means dad; referring to them any other way feels awkward—too awkward... However, I'm writing in English, so I've used Amma (Mom) and Appa (Dad) as a compromise. I've capitalized each since they function like more like titles than names—like Bart calling his dad "Homer." Think of them as stage names or personas...
As for their legal names, I'll be using "Mombert" and "Dadbert"... Gee, bet you didn't see that one coming...

That’s all I want to say about my middle name right now. It’s simple, yet tells you everything you need to continue this story. We’ll move on to my last name in the next part! It’s far more important, and infuriating…


Thank you for your time,
Roybert S. Henanigans


P.S. 96: I’ve updated my Contact Me page explaining how you can help me if you choose to. This includes a messaging form, my gmail address, my Twitter account, and a donation button to my Ko-Fi page. I’ll update specifics gradually. If there’s one thing I could ask for above all else, I’d ask for two—then I’d use one of those two to say that the best way to help is to share my work with someone.

On a serious note, thank you so much for reading—it truly means the world to me!

The Clown and the Rakes—part 1

Ahoyhoy™,

Welcome back. Turns out, writing about heavy topics weighs on me more than expected. Here’s a much lighter post. I hope this makes the heavier content more manageable (for me)… As always, I welcome feedback!


The Clown and the Rakes—part 1

Have you ever seen that Simpsons clip of Sideshow Bob stepping on a rake? I’m talking about the episode where the Simpsons enter the Witness Relocation Program: They exit their car and head off to their new lives, but soon after they leave, a battered Sideshow Bob rolls out from under their car, stands up, and steps on a rake. He shudders. He takes another step—on another rake… After the second rake clocks him in the face, the camera’s zooms out from the closeup of his face to an aerial shot revealing a field of rakes surrounding him… The scene implies that he’ll take a few more rakes to the face before moving on. That triggered this writing.

NOTE: I've described the (roughly) 35 s clip above well enough, so you don't need to watch it—quite frankly, it's popular enough that you probably know what I'm referencing. I considered linking it here, but that kills the momentum of my writing: an embed solves that problem. However, as I'm unsure about the ethics involved in embedding—especially an optional clip that isn't even mine—I've provided it in my postscript notes... What are your thoughts on the matter?

I don’t know why that came to mind; I wasn’t watching the clip when it triggered my train of thought—it just appeared… I’ve decided to use it as a writing prompt. I hope it works out. It should (at least) provide further insight into why I never truly have a boredom problem—despite what I claim for the sake of (everyone’s) convenience… Anyway, onto the actual story…

Names intrigue me. Why? Well, stories fascinate me; that shouldn’t surprise you—that’s just human. I like efficiency; you probably knew that (if not, now you know). Names marry stories and efficiency: they’re incredibly efficient stories. It’s hard to get more efficient than a one-word story (though it is possible—when provided appropriate setup)…

NOTE: ...

Names define identities. The identity it represents contains the story. Therein lies what I meant: when you hear a name, it conjures an identity. Other words and metaphors lack that uniqueness of names.

Names bestow individuality. They link so strongly to identities that even substitutes for names define identities; case in point: pronouns. When you use a pronoun, it influences the social dynamics within a conversation. When you use the right pronoun, you connote something (e.g. respect, awareness, empathy); when you use the wrong pronoun you connote something else (e.g. ignorance, disrespect, confusion). Even pausing before using a pronoun connotes something (e.g. thoughtfulness, confusion, anxiety). Then there’s ostensibility: did others think you used the right or wrong one? You might use the right pronoun, but if others think you used the wrong one it reflects differently than if they think you used the correct one. Similarly, when you use the wrong pronoun, if others think you used the wrong one it reflects differently than if they think you used the correct one.

Pronouns define identities—and they’re not even the actual names: they’re substitutes… Realizing this helps frame the importance of actual names.


P.S. 1: Sideshow Bob steps on rakes

P.S. 96: I’ve updated my Contact Me page explaining how you can help me if you choose to. This includes a messaging form, my gmail address, my Twitter account, and a donation button to my Ko-Fi page. I’ll update specifics gradually. If there’s one thing I could ask for above all else, I’d ask for two—then I’d use one of those two to say that the best way to help is to share my work with someone.

On a serious note, thank you so much for reading—it truly means the world to me!