Sunday, November 12, 2017


My dad would have been in his eighties by now. This would be his victory lap. He might spend it visiting grandchildren and puttering around that wood shop that he never really got to in the life he left a little over twenty years ago. My son shows up historically as a marker of that passing. He was named for my father because we figured there was probably a parking space with that name somewhere that wasn't being used: Donald.
And now, two decades later, we are stuck with a "President" that might want to share that spot. Which is a pity, not just for the memory of my father but mostly because my son suffers under the weight of the label his parents put on his lunchbox so long ago.
Cheadle, Sutherland, Fagen. All perfectly acceptable pop cultural icons upon which one's Donald hat could be hung. Pleasance, Driver, Bellisario if you wanted to be a little more obscure. And of course there's always that Duck.
If you're a little more relaxed and more comfortable with the one syllable monikers, you could be happy with Rickles, Henley, Siegel, Novello, Adams, McLean, Ameche, Meredith, Shula, King or even Corleone.
Any of these are much more along the lines of the legacy that my son's mother and I had in mind when we offered up something to put on our son's birth certificate. It seemed like such a natural and appropriate tribute. These days it turns out to be a burden.
In an alternate reality, one in which our son had been our daughter, we had settled on Magnolia for the little girl who lives on another street in another time and place. There are no serial sexual predators or failed diplomats named Magnolia. As a sobriquet, Maggie has Thatcher to deal with, but Simpson tends to make that a wash, and Gyllenhaal and Smith would serve nicely as theatrical doppelgangers.
Or maybe I should embrace the fact that my son was given a name that he will eventually make his own. The banner under which he marches will carry the weight and lifted up by all that history. All that memory, and not just the actions of one enormous creamsicle, melting under the lights he asked to shine on him. This is the name of my father and my son, and that's the way I will forever remember it.

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