I am reading this fascinating book called Gimme Something Better: The Profound, Progressive, and Occasionally Pointless History of Bay Area Punk from Dead Kennedys to Green Day by Jack Boulware and Silke Tudor.I have an obsession with rock biographies and this one is in my favorite format, the oral history. All these people recalling the same events, and having everything pieced together like a quilt--the truth is in their somewhere, but the stories are so much more colorful. The thing that is particularly great about punk rock is that people felt compelled to change their names, and they did so excellently. Klaus Fluoride, Leslie Fuckette, Ninja Death,Jennifer Blowdryer, Joey Shithead--why do none of the parents' at my kids school have these names? PTO meetings would be a howl if i could hear, just ONCE, "Yes, Ms. Fuckette?" I would actually go to those meetings.
What I have learned from this book is that many of the kids who got involved in the punk movement in San Francisco were street kids, drug users, troubled youths, who wanted to leave their old personas behind. If you were the picked on small kid in middle school, you could give yourself a mohawk, call yourself Bob Noxious and-poof-no more little nerd. Names are powerful, because it announces you before you have a chance to present yourself. "Meet my friend, Creetin K-Os" is waaaaaaay more captivating than "Meet my neighbor, John Smith." It just is. And I don't think even John Smith would argue with that.
Simone was an unusual name for 1966. My parents wanted to name me after my grandfather, Solomon, so considered Samantha (which was rejected because my mother didn't like Sam as a nickname), Simone and the utterly vile Hebrew name of Smadar, which sounds like some sort of middle eastern headdress or a bathroom cleanser. Simone it was, and has continued to be. As a very, very shy child (I swear I was!), the anxiety of the first day of school or a substitute teacher was excruciating--it was nearly a guarantee that I would be called Simon. Then teasing for the rest of the day, or week, or year, if you were unlucky enough to have Danny Barnett in your class. The gentler teachers tried to soften the blow by saying ".....Berk?" so I would pipe up, correctly pronouncing my name, and they would be spared the embarrassment, as I would. I have been called Simon more times than I can count, and continue to be. Oddly, I was also called Michelle and Nicole many times as an elementary schooler, all girls' French names being interchangeable, apparently
But what I wanted, wanted so much, was to be named Stacy. Or Staci. Stacey. Stacie. Stacee. I wanted to have a name that was "normal", that ended with a y or an i, that was never mispronounced or looked at twice. I wanted to blend in with Tracy, Kelly, Shelly, Marci and my best friend, Wendy. I wanted to fit. And I believed that what kept me from fitting was my name. And to some extent, that is true, because my name made me feel different than everyone else. But I was different. I am different. Not unacceptably so, but different nonetheless. And that is a good thing. At the age of 43, I am embracing my temper as passion, my OCD as focus and my moodiness as artistic temperament. I am abnormally focused on footwear, chocolate and 0 calorie beverages. I love so strongly that I hurt myself. I am generous and irresponsible about money. I dream all my anxiety in an endless loop. I am many things and am becoming many more. At 43, I am not nearly done. So nothing against the Stacys of the world--I am sure, as a group and individually, you are delightful. I have known some of you and can attest to that. But I was never meant to be one of your ranks. I was never meant to be a Stacy.