The Writers Voice
Favourite Literary Website
The Name With No Man
Most of us
have a secret wish or two, and all of us
occasionally get an urge
to be someone we're not. Like kids at Halloween
hiding behind a mask and a
costume, what fun it is to be a ghost or a movie
star, or maybe even a spirit
from another world.
Perhaps it's because my life has been so routine --
so predictable, I often
sit back in my chair, put my feet up and fancy
myself as John Wayne or Albert
Einstein. But I am chained by circumstances,
(including the Holy Rite of
Matrimony) to the nine to five life I lead. But let
me make it clear, I have
no regrets -- I better not have any, Sylvia is a
strong willed woman.
It all began with my name -- Arthur Noble. It is no
John Hancock believe me.
It does not inspire confidence -- no one has ever
said, "Oh! are you THE
Arthur Noble?" or "Look! There goes Arthur Noble!"
Instead, I usually find it
misspelled. It is spelled incorrectly on my
driver's license and on my Social
Security card -- I have complained, but nobody
seems to care. If this were to
happen to Sylvia, she would raise the roof. We make
a good pair as a rule,
she provides me with the backbone I lack, and I
attempt to keep her out of
I've just recently signed up with AOL. When I
applied for a screen name, they
said, "sorry .... Arthur's been used, so has Noble
.... how about ANob7782?"
It seemed all right to me, but I thought I'd better
ask Sylvia, and she said,
"No dice! What's with this ANob foolishness? Look
at yourself -- do you look
like an ANob? .... and that 7782, what's that all
about? Sounds like a prison
number! Are you going to be a Nebbish all your
life?" She went on to explain
that a person's screen name should be an extension
of himself. It should
stand out bold and true. It should say, "This is
me! Get out of my face! I am
king of all I survey!"
It was a question of displeasing AOL or Sylvia, and
there was no doubt in my
mind which direction to take. I don't have to live
She left the room after shaking her finger at me
and saying, "You better
assert yourself, ANob." .... and so I did. Within
ten minutes I had three new
names, none of them my own. As children assume
names of sports heroes, (Hey!
looka me! I'm Willie Mays!) I chose the names of
people I wish I were but
never could be. Let me explain.
I have always envied the kings of the road .... you
know the unshaven truck
drivers with American flag tattoos, so I chose the
name, 'Semirig18.' Now,
when the spirit moves me, I can adopt the persona
of a cigar smoking truck
driver with the name 'Semirig18.' Now I can talk
like a truck driver, think
like one, in fact everything short of smelling like
one. When I sign off, I
am mild-mannered Arthur Noble again.
Sylvia often works late in her beauty parlor. At
such times I take advantage
of her absence, and like a cicada emerging from its
chrysalis, I have become
'cyberstud,' the mad stallion of the chat room,
pawing at the paddock gate.
All men have a feminine streak, and I'd be the
first to admit that mine is
wider than most. I love to cook and Sylvia has
often said I hang out a lovely
line of wash. For those times when the left side of
my brain is in the
ascendant in conjunction with a bad hair day, I
adopt the name ToyBoy69, and
search for a kindred spirit.
The anonymity of cyberspace permits me to switch
from Jekyll to Hyde at the
speed of light. There are no physical changes to
slow me down and no one
looking in on Arthur Noble sitting in his
underpants and T-shirt would
suspect him of living three lives .... well four if
you count the flesh and
blood Arthur -- and as you might suspect, not many
people do. It was always
my intention to leave these characters on the other
side of the PC. Like the
dream figures in Alice Through the Looking Glass,
they were not meant to
enter the physical world.
There have been times when my persona overlapped.
Occasionally I would find
myself in situations when I should behave as
'Semirig18,' only to find I was
in my 'ToyBoy69' masquerade. The solution, if you
can call it that, was to
sign off immediately, and like a quick change
artist, reappear in a new
disguise. Then I might have been in my 'Cyberstud'
stage and been surprised
to find I was alone in a chat room filled with
giggling 14 year old girls. It
was often like a game of charades played by the
blind. What would happen to
me if I carried this deception into the real world?
The possibility of such a
situation began to trouble me, for in the real
world I am simply meek and
mild mannered Arthur Noble, smiling account
executive for Empire Insurance. I
would have to answer to Sylvia first of all, and
that is easier said than
Dear Sylvia is the owner and operator of "NuYou,"
an establishment dedicated
to making women more attractive than they actually
are -- I am her trusted
accountant. I have been slave to other people's
problems, hers and those of
the Empire Insurance Company, for more years than I
care to count. The
vicarious thrill of being someone I am not in the
anonymous world of
cyberspace is like a weekend pass from Fort Dix.
I was doing her books one afternoon. She has a
small office, off to the side,
next to the ladies dressing room. From there you
can hear the secret
confessions that ladies can't seem to hold back
when they are being fussed
with. Adrian, the star hairdresser, was in full
falsetto and matching the
ladies revelations with those of his own. Sylvia
came back to see how I was
getting on. "Let me look at you," she said suddenly
.... "something strange
about you. Are you up to something?"
"Of course not, Sylvia, I'm fine," I replied, "just
fine, I always feel a
little macho here in NuYou." I went on about my
work but I sensed a subtle
change in me as well. It felt as though 'Cyberstud'
had gotten into me
somehow and was looking for a way to get out. I was
sure it was Cyberstud. I
know him. I could tell it wasn't 'Semirig18' or
'Toyboy69' .... I figured it
might have been the presence of ladies in the other
I finished Sylvia's books, stuffed the notes in my
brief case and put on my
coat. As I left the shop, the cyberstud phase wore
off and a new feeling came
over me. I found myself walking like John Wayne
through the parking lot,
hands loosely dangling at my hips as though ready
to draw. A queer rocking
sort of walk which hardly befitted my gray tweed
coat and black fedora. I
reasoned that 'Semirig18' had taken over and when I
sat in the well worn seat
of the old Biscayne I retrieved a forgotten dried
out cigar I had left in the
ash tray last New Year's Eve. I fantasized I was in
the cab of an 18-wheeler
as I backed into the street. I made a wide right at
the corner so as not to
hang up on the curb and drew to a stop at the light
at the intersection of
Lincoln and Jefferson.
When the light turned green, one of those brash Jap
horns squealed behind me.
"Smart ass," I said to myself. Then I looked in the
side view mirror and I
saw this young punk in glasses hitting the horn
with the heel of his hand.
Without giving it a second thought, I opened the
door with my elbow and
climbed out of the car. Clamping the dry cigar in
the side of my mouth I
walked menacingly toward the little runt in his
Corolla behind me.
"You gotta problem witcha' horn kid?" He locked his
driver's door and gave me
a nervous grin.
"Well, you're holding us up here chief, and I'm
kinda in a hurry."
"Whyn'tcha pop yer hood open, I'll see what's wrong
As I look back at the situation, I can't imagine
why the young man folded as
quickly as he did. There I was, a pale, middle aged
insurance agent getting
out of my old dented Biscayne, dressed in a tweed
overcoat and wearing a
black fedora. He had nothing to fear from me, and
yet somehow, he, as I, had been mesmerized by the
persona of 'Semirig18.'
"I'll pull yer friggin horn out by da roots and
stuff it up yer ass .... " I
had just finished blurting out these frightening
words from behind my cigar,
when Charlie Spangler, our local patrolman, tapped
me on the shoulder.
"You having a problem here, Arthur?"
As though the air had been let out of my balloon,
my mood changed instantly.
I spat out the dried cigar and heard myself say, "Thweetie!
I'm tho glad to
What had happened to me? In the space of five
minutes, I had become three
different people -- none of them were me. But I had
fooled myself and others
into thinking I was someone I wasn't. I had
deceived people I knew and cared
for. What would Charlie Spangler think? We had
bowled together, watched
Monday Night Football down at the Hollow Leg
"You O.K. Arthur? Ain't been drinkin', have you?" I
assured him I had not.
"Wanna get back in your car? .... Lookit the line
of cars your holdin' up
here." We walked back to my car together and I was
aware that my walk had
changed again. I was putting one foot in front of
the other and twirling my
car keys in my left hand. I didn't dare utter a
word but I could see Charlie
looking at me strangely .... "Now you go straight
home Arthur. Don't stop fer
nothin', y'hear? Just go straight home, get outta
yer duds and put'cha feet
I did just that, and as I sat on the living room
sofa the ToyBoy69
affectation eased up a bit. I began to feel a bit
more like nobody again.
What a relief! From where I sat I could see the
great, gray, glass eye of the
computer screen looking out at me from the den. It
seemed to beckon to me.
Did I hear music? It seemed to me I could hear the
voices of women .... yes
of course! That would be my new name .... Odysseus!
Critique this work
Click on the book to leave a comment about this work