Long story short, my middle name was supposed to honor my uncle Sal and my aunt Tanisha. I'd be more comfortable it if the reasoning behind the name was something along the lines of "A Boy Named Sue" by Johnny Cash -- something to toughen me up a bit. Alas, my parents didn't really give it a whole lot of thought (obviously), and by the time they did, it was already on the birth certificate. So I am Bruce Satan Pilgrim.
Thus, throughout my life, I've had a bit of a PR problem. I've been taunted countless times, endured such sobriquets as Devil Boy, Beelzebubba, Lucy Fur, Satan's Little Helper, and the Prince of Snarkness.
Carrying the baggage of Mephistoles has made it pretty much impossible to pass myself off as angelic. When my mom declaimed my full name in a certain tone of voice, I knew I was in very big trouble. Each year in grade school, the new teacher would take me aside and warn me that they wouldn’t tolerate any of my tricks. Which I always took as a challenge.
As a teenager, I experimented with using initials as an alternative, but B.S. Pilgrim has its own set of problems. Bruce S. Pilgrim didn't really ring, either. In my senior year in high school, I briefly embraced the opposite strategy and unsuccessfully campaigned as "Satan for Student Council." This did not go over very well in an all-boys Catholic institution.
Most of the time, I've just gone by my surname and last name, telling myself it is shorter and easier. Besides, I've gotten pretty tired of dealing with it. It's bad enough suffering through all the John Wayne imitations and the crank calls from slumber parties asking if I came over on the Mayflower.
So, if you don't like being called Old Scratch, then why not change your name, you ask? It has crossed my mine a couple of million times. In the end, I feel compelled to honor my parents' decision, no matter how hastily and ill-conceived it may have been.
Despite carrying a middle name that conjures the Antichrist, I've tried to live a decent life. I like to think that I am no more evil than the next guy. I pay my taxes, drive the speed limit, and sometimes I even manage to avoid having impure thoughts. Yet, the name can be a burden.
Imagine, for example, what would happen if I ran for a national political office, such as the presidency. As a liberal Democrat, I would be instantly hated by the right wing talk show bullies, and in addition to the many questionable things I've done during my long and extinguished career, they'd repeatedly state my full name, never missing a chance to put extra emphasis on the "Satan" part.
The implication that I am, in fact, the Archfiend, would be aimed at the distressingly large numbers of dittoheads who religiously follow the wingnuts, as well as the knee jerk fundamentalist Christians who are absolutely convinced the Serpent is actively undermining their every thought and action.
Instead of considering my exciting new approach, my multi-point policies, my plans to change Washington politics, my inspiring gift of oratory, and well let's face it, my amazing charisma, it would all be lost on the great unwashed. A depressingly sizable percentage of the American electorate is largely uninformed, and uninterested in anything more challenging than American Gladiator.
Now, I can totally understand how someone who actually knows me might be disinclined to vote for me to become leader of the free world. But if voters turned to my opponent strictly on the basis of my last name, that would be a damned shame.
Who really cares what a president's middle name is anyway? We've had a guy named Dubya in the job for eight years. There's also been a Fitzgerald, a Baines, and even a Delano. Why not someone such as Bruce "The Father of Lies" Pilgrim?
As for those who think they're being cute by flogging my middle name, I'll see you in hell.
I hope you don't feel too bad about your middle name. I think it would go perfectly with my last name, LaMorte! But my parents aren't clever in any way, so I have a frumpy middle name, not even worth mentioning.