One time a bunch of people I know went out to a nice-ish breakfast. For about twenty minutes everyone talked about how scary it was when they googled their names. One girl said all her personal information is on some random site as the first result. Some guy mentioned that he used google results to cull all the embarrassing pictures he had.
I just drank orange juice and played on my phone while they talked.
Out for drinks at BWWs. First waitress gives me a weird look when she IDs me. I am sober so I ignore it. She wants to say something, but I don’t make eye contact and pretend to be interested in what my friends are saying.
After a couple hours, the waitress informs us that her shift is up and she is switching with Genevieve. Genevieve is a super hot waitress and I drink just enough more courage to say something.
She says she needs to ID us again, just because.
I smirk, then slide her my ID.
Wait for it…
She checks the birthday, and hands it back. I make eye contact.
Nothing. Really disappointing.
She walks away and for the rest of the night I pine. Was I starting to get used to this whole name thing? Is there a way I can wield it to my advantage? I should have said something.
The picture on my ID is from when I was 16.
I finally got a girl to talk to me at a club/bar thing. It was really loud but she didn’t walk away right away and we probably changed topics like three or four times. Occasionally she texted. Right away I had mentioned my name was Chris Brown, I forget why. I had been drinking and sweating.
I am starting to overthink things now. What do I talk about next? Is she really into me? Is she texting her friends telling them to leave her with me for the night? That’s what girls do, right?
Then her friends showed up.
"THIS GUY! His name is Chris Brown! Here, Show them your ID!"
Everyone squealed when they saw it.
I probably smiled a little bit more, but then I ordered a whiskey and went to the bathroom to splash water on my face dramatically.
There was one of those bathroom guys turning water on for people and expecting tips, so I pretended to pee and then slunk out.
Then I left and went home and watched Predator or something.
This guy gchatted me offering some commiseration.
"Hey man I feel you, my last name is Wendt and a lot of my teachers would make fun of me because it’s a verb. Also it’s the same last name as Norm from Cheers."
I told that it must have been rough growing up as a child but really I was envious. Verbs are better than adjectives.
He’s an adult now so I doubt he gets much hardship form teachers anymore. There’s always the “pun guy” at the office, but no one likes him.
I didn’t say much else, but I did look up Norm Peterson on imdb. His name is George Wendt.
Must have been rough.
One of my circle of friends calls me by my full name all the time. I am the only Chris and I think they are doing it ironically because they listen to punk music and other stuff (Scream-o? That’s a thing, right?).
In high school I was called “Brown.” Occasionally someone would get creative and say “Browny.”
I gave the lady my Sam’s Club card. She had to verify that I was the person in the photograph on the card.
"Your name is Chris Brown?"
She spoke really fast but still sounded like she expected an answer.
I smiled and shrugged.
"My brother and dad are both named Chris Brown and it sucks. I’m sorry man."
It was really nice of her to say that. I felt bad for her bro and dad because she was black, so they probably get it worse than I do.
After drinks, we split the bill up so the waitress had to leave for ten minutes. There were maybe 10 of us. I paid with my card.
She comes back with a stack of little puffy black card folder things.
Her face is suppressing some incredible secret or joke and it is about to explode.
Eventually it does.
I think I raised my hand or looked at her as blankly as possible. She handed me my puffy folder. She dumped the rest on the table. Her face looked satisfied. Her suspicions were confirmed, it seemed.
Luckily I was with friends who I had known for a little bit. No one would care except the jillions of other patrons who were trying to figure out why a name was just yelled out loud. Then Sarah spoke.
"OMG, your name is CHRIS BROWN? I did NOT know that about you"
Everyone laughed, and we talked about how my name is Chris Brown for a good minute or two while everyone signed their checks. I think he came out with a single (Is that what they call them? Not album, right?) and Sarah wanted me to sing some lyrics with her. Or she just wanted to sing at me. It was fun for her, so I let her continue a few bars. Something, something, club, girl, club, I don’t remember. A few people knew what she was talking about.
Then I walked home.
I went in for a job interview. There were about 50 people in the office. A lot of them were young.
I waited in the front until someone named Jenny or Kendra or Britney walked me to the interrogation room. We walked right through the cubicle jungle.
"Everyone was going crazy when they found out that someone named Chris Brown was interviewing here"
"Yup, that’s me"
A girl actually spun in her chair to look at me. Her mouth was open a little. Then she froze, frowned and turned back around.
I don’t know what she was expecting.
I didn’t get the job.
Lost my debit card at some bar. Bank closes early on Sunday. My head is still hungover. I wobble over to the bank.
They make me sit in one of those side rooms with the comfy chairs. I get some really pretty white gurl to handle my card-creation process.
"I need one form of ID please"
Here it is. Not in the mood for her comments. I hand over my license.
She reads the name. I look at the floor so she won’t see my face. I am too hungover to hide my emotions.
Wait for it…
"Don’t you hate it when people say shit about your name?”
What? I am stunned. I look up. She is looking at me with the deepest empathy. Sorrow, even.
My contacts were sticking to my eyeballs from dehydration and squinting. Then I saw it.
Her name tag:
HOW CAN I HELP YOU?
We laughed. I was so nervous. I had never met anyone like her. We joked and started talking. Was this how people picked up girls outside of bars and clubs? I was hungover and a gross mess and still wasn’t making an ass of myself.
But it was doomed. It could never be. The very thing that we bonded over was the very quality that disallowed any further relationship. It would be a relationship grounded in self-actualization and defined by too many others. I don’t think we could even be friends.
Slowly, this realization dawned on her and me. We were getting along. Maybe more.
I waited until the first conversation gap came.
I let it hang there.
So did she. We let it linger a little more and then got back to work I filled out the proper forms and got my replacement card. I stood up and probably smiled at her. Then I left.
She was beautiful too.