What’s in a name? A lot, actually.
Guys named Tom hang out in bars and work dead end jobs. Guys named Tommy work on cars and never really mature mentally past 17. Guys name Thomas are either are fags, corporate officers or playboy trust funders.
If I had any name, it would probably be Jack. You can do just about anything when your name is Jack. That soft consonant at the front followed with the hard “ack” at the end will catch just about anyone’s attention.
But instead I was named Lazlo and spend a fair amount of time correcting the pronounciation for people I meet once and will never see again.
Of course the last name of Gusto doesn’t help much. My parents, degenerate hippies that they were, gave me the last name Acuna after the town in Mexico were I was conceived. Eventually, they didn’t like the squiggly line above the “n” in Acuna and changed my last name to Gusto when I was 2.
Lazlo came about because that’s what my parents were doing at the time: hiding out from my mother’s irrate family. Hilarious, right? Sort of.
So just saying my name aloud, reading it on a traffic ticket or writing it on a job application reminds me of my parents screwing in a dirty little town on the Texas/Mexico border while my grandparents tried in vain to keep them apart.
My mother and father never married. His name was Randy Stevenson. He stuck around until I was 8. I only saw him once after that. My mother’s name is Betsy Gruene. As an act of rebellion against their own parents they gave me a completely different name.
“This way you are your own unique person,” my mother told me once. “Nobody owns you and you will never be tied to anyone.”
She was full of baby boomer idealist dribble like that. This meant that while she was full of good intentions, her advice was generally useless.
There was a small amount of money left from my maternal grandparents that I was able to use to attend college. My mother pushed for me to attain an liberal art education. This is a bad decision for any wishing to be employed.
Comparative religion, philosophy, sociology, politicial science… these are majors which lead a young adult into poverty and frustration. Perhaps, if they catch a break, they might find themselves in sales.
I stayed in the English department. This was also a fairly dumb move on my part. It means I spent roughly $15,000 per semester learning the same stuff I could have have picked up hanging around Barnes and Noble.
“Do what makes you happy,” my mother told me when I started to panic about finding a job.
This is the worst advice you can give to anyone.
What makes me happy? Drinking. Drugs. Sex (more often by myself than with a lady). Having a ton of money laying around and blowing it impulsively. Using this as a career guidance I should probably be dealing drugs.
I lucked out and stumbled into a job covering the courts and cops for a newspaper after I graduated.
Working for a newspaper is one of the few jobs in the world were there is actually an inverse relationship between the pay and the hours performed. The job ended.
After drifting for almost a year I finally have something different lined up. I’m supposed to be tutoring the rich daughter of Mr. Byrd so that she gets out of college. It’s not going well and I’m sure at any time I’ll be fired. But the pay is good enough that I’m going to ride this as long as I can.
Me (read the above again if you’ve forgotten)
Jessie Byrd, the psycho chic I’m tutoring
Theo, Jessie’s long suffering boyfriend of sorts