(U-WIRE) EVANSTON, Ill. – Waylon Smithers, the gay sycophant of “The Simpsons,” once said, “I think women and seamen don’t mix.”
His boss replied, “We know what you think.”
Yes, I know what Smithers thinks.
Similarly, I know what most people think when they hear my name. Something along the lines of, “No, really, what’s your name?”
Freshman Danielle Seaman knows the feeling.
During roll call at an Advanced Placement test last year, a boy piped up, “Oh, my God, whose last name is that?” and looked around for the guilty party.
But that’s nothing compared to what must be endured by John Seaman, a pitcher for the Northwestern University baseball team.
“Coming in to throw, Seaman …”
John says he’s come to accept gentle ribbing from friends; it’s only the strangers who come close to bothering him.
Each opposing team seems to have a clown who makes fun, but John reverses it to his own benefit. “I use the energy,” he says. “(The taunting) just makes me want to shove it in their face more.”
Two Richard Seamans live in Evanston. I was unable to reach either of them, but I have a good idea of what they would have said: “Richard. My first name is Richard, jerk.”
The cruel names have plagued us since junior high. A good friend calls me Lukewarm. And there’s a host of others that even I, who once wrote a column about Altoid head games, will not repeat here.
In high school, I dated a girl with the last name of Heimann. Oh, she thought that was funny. If we married, we could hyphenate! Heimann-Seemann? Get it? Get it?
I got it. The relationship was brief.
Laugh at yourself first, before anyone else can, that’s what I say.
This explains my jocular nature. But beating others to the punch line gets tiresome when someone else always thinks she’s the first one to notice that I have a bodily fluid for a name.
And not just any bodily fluid – life would be rosy with a name like Luke Spit or even Luke Urine.
Danielle says she is eager to be married, if for nothing else then a new name. I once looked forward to my 18th birthday, when I would be able to change my name. Luke Mitchell. Luke Chen. Luke Golightly.
Anything but Luke Seemann.
In “Dead Poets Society,” the teacher urged Gerard Pitts to rise above his name. Thus, I too shall rise above my name. Indeed, I have gradually grown to accept, if not appreciate, my name. So have Danielle and John.
As Ahab had his wooden leg and Hester had her scarlet “A,” so have we our unfortunate last names. Our names are badges of honor – they add character. We are not Joneses. We are not Smiths. No, we are Seemanns, Seamans and Siemens, and dammit, we like it that way.
Myself, I wouldn’t change my name for anything. Anything, that is, except a fistful of dollars.
-Luke Seemann is a student at Northwestern University.