What’s in a Name

Call me Gavin.  Some years ago—never mind how long precisely— I was born as the entity William Gavin John Sisk, which is not the same as the entity Gavin William John Sisk.  The later exists physically, but not legally; the former legally, but not physically.  According to the Social Security Department, the former owns a social security number, while the latter does not.  Nonetheless, the latter, who doesn’t exist legally and who doesn’t own a social security number, is free to ask that a replacement social security card in the name of the former—who doesn’t actually exist—be mailed to the personal address of the latter upon presentation and acceptance of a driver license which positively identifies the requestor to the issuer as somebody other than the owner of said social security number.  The issuer of said social security card expresses full awareness of this discrepancy and freely acknowledges that said card will serve absolutely no useful purpose to either or both the former and/or latter, and advises the latter to change his name to the latter to avoid confusion with the former and to ensure one or the other receives his social security checks when he turns sixty-five, or sixty-seven, or seventy, or whenever the eligibility has been reset to by the time the former or latter (likely both simultaneously) decides to retire from one life or the other—neither of which may the former or latter pursue legally while either languishes in this legal limbo.

Make sense?  You’re reading this on the internet, so it must be true.

The root of this forked-up identity crisis?  Nuns.  The nuns in my elementary school refused to call me by my given name, Gavin, because it isn’t in the bible.  (The names Ron and Larry are in the bible, apparently, but not Gavin.)  I had two first names, William and Gavin; so the nuns elected to call me Bill.  Nuns could do that.  I’m surprised they didn’t call me Zelda.

Anyway, my mother got wind of the nuns usurping her power of maternal attorney and she took swift action.  She sailed right into the Mother Superior’s office at school and explained loudly how all this worked.  She proclaimed in her Ahab manner, “I name my children; you teach them!”  My mother was an ex-nun; she could say that.  The previous year, after discovering the nuns were getting physical with her kids, she proclaimed to the Mother Superior (the Great Whale), “I’ll hit my children; you teach them!”  Believe me; my mother could hit us a lot harder than any nun could.

It turned out my mother only scored one-for-two against the nuns.  They still called me Bill, relying on the order my names appeared on my birth certificate for their authority.  On top of that, they called my brother, Toney, by another name, John.  Apparently, the name Toney isn’t in the bible either.  That made my mother one-for-three.  I suppose all this was my mother’s version of my present dealings with the Social Security Department.

For my mother, one-for-three with a harpoon wasn’t an acceptable score.  So one day she hauled my brother and me down to the county courthouse to have our names changed.  From William Gavin John Sisk, my name changed to Gavin William John Sisk.  Somehow, my brother’s name was also made nun-proof.  My mother had the last word and the nuns’ hands were forced.  My mother’s score: three-for-four.

Like my mother, the school’s Mother Superior is now long dead.  Could it be that mixed with the Great Whale’s last Hail Mary was a little hex against the son of her old adversary?  “Hail Social Security, be filled with grace. Blessed is the fruit of thy wrong vision…”

The final score: a dead heat.


March 5, 2013

Edit, March 13, 2013–

I received my new social security card in the mail a couple of days ago.  Printed on it is the name, William John Sisk–a version of my name I have never before used.  Social Security utterly ignored my given name, Gavin.  From the grave, the nuns prevail.

Call me Zelda.

–Gavin W Sisk



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