WHAT'D YOU CALL ME? A little introspection and selfless community service.
I like my name a lot. "Tim"...it's short, it's easy to spell, easy to pronounce, not to mention reliable. It made souvenir shopping a breeze. I could always find it on a preprinted coffee mug, “authentic imitation” Indian keepsake box, or the pre teen must have: a bicycle license plate. Yup, I like my name...well, mostly I'm used to it, besides, it's pretty handy.
My first name has built in variations which, when used properly, are great indicators of my current situation...for example, if I nod off, and wake up to "Timothy" I know I must be at the DMV, or an IRS audit. As any eight year old can tell you, if my full middle name is added, and I hear "Timothy Joseph" wafting towards me, it means my mama is mad! If it’s "Timmy" that’s used, I know someone is here to rescue me, because Lassie was successfully able to convey that I've fallen down a well, or…in a more likely scenario, one of a handful of close friends is speaking to me. Add a shortened version of my middle name to that, and "Timmy Joe" means my dad is calling...or grandma is trying to reach me from beyond the grave. See, very useful. It's the last name that's the problem.
Don't get me wrong, I like my last name too. "Kent"...once you get past the ubiquitous jokes about Superman's alter ego, that is. Again, it's short, easy to spell and pronounce, and not ridiculously common...but, and herein lies the problem, it is also a first name. I know a handful of people similarly cursed with the last/first names of Allison, Paul, Morris, John, and Frank…I even went to elementary school with one poor bastard with the same first and last name.
Every September it seemed that Howard Howard would try a new variation to introduce himself to the teacher. He never seemed to go with a classic abbreviation like Howie, or even Ward…no, he was full on drastic. I remember him being called Howard Jeffery Howard, H. Jeffrey Howard, Howard J. Howard, and H.J. Howard all before he gave up and reverted back to plain, sad Howard Howard…thinking back, probably because that’s what we all called him. Never just Howard, always Howard Howard.
I don’t, and didn't, have it that bad. I got used to being called Kent early on…I mean there are times when it’s totally appropriate, like high school gym class, or prison fantasies; other times it’s an awkward accident. I’m always at a loss as when to correct someone. I never want to hurt anyone’s feelings, and if I’m not going to see them again I don’t really care if they’ve just called me Kent, Ken, or even Kim. (That last one always catches me by surprise, but it happens all the time.) It only gets bad if I run into them again, and/or they try and introduce me to someone else. Then I feel compelled to correct them, creating a big steaming pile of awkward. Something that could have been avoided if I just "manned up" in the first place...I know, I know…I’m trying to be better about it.
With my artwork, I’ve been faced with a new crisis of identity. I’ve just gotten to the point of being comfortable with being called an artist; how I sign the work was, and is, its own hurdle. I’ve never really examined, until the writing of this blog post, the reasoning behind my choices, but here goes. With my more traditional paintings, I sign them “Tim”. That’s who I feel I am, at my personal core, and that’s where they come from. My mixed media pieces are signed “Kent Moore”, while I create them, my husband (last name of “Moore”) is an integral part of their inspiration, and construction. It felt right to use both of our names. With the larger mixed media and abstract pieces, I’ve found myself signing them “Tim Kent-Moore”…still just me, but part of a larger whole. I don’t know if it makes sense, or is the best thing for my “brand”, but it feels honest. With each passing day Kent-Moore feels more and more like who I am…who knows, with the recent SCOTUS ruling it may even become a legal reality. It doesn’t matter, to quote Oscar Hammerstein, it’s "me, a name I call myself".
Years ago I created a combined email account for Dennis and me: KentMoore@aol.com. Please note that it was so long ago that it’s just a name, and contains no numbers or extra identifiers, combined with the fact that it’s also an AOL address, is a tip off for how long it’s been around. I know that the moniker is a combination of my last name and his, but let’s not forget the whole “last name is also a first name” thing. I get a lot of mail for Kent Moore…well, several Kent Moore’s actually. I receive phone bills, from a provider that I don’t use, for Kent Moore who lives in Tennessee, and political fundraiser invites for Kent Moore living in Colorado. In one instance, I received an offer for a promotion from a company that I don’t even work for...well, I mean Kent Moore did. Not that I read any of these misdirected emails once I ascertained that I was not the intended recipient…buah ha ha, who am I kidding? I read them all. They can be a novel source of entertainment, or a shocking insight to a radical subculture (let's just say that if drag queens start showing up "shot with a skeet riffle" in "Dixie", I know which Kent Moore to point out to the police). Just a novel bit of reading, and then deleted. At least that’s how I used to feel until I was included in an impassioned thread from the west coast. I felt her frustration, as team captain Choy tried to rally her team, not knowing why their star player wasn’t showing up for their post season games…I knew, and felt obligated to act. Like a superhero of sorts, I stepped out of the voyeuristic shadows of the internet, and into the email fray.
THIS IS THE "COMMUNITY SERVICE" PART OF THE BLOG (as noted in the subtitle)
Hello San Francisco Volleyball Enthusiasts,
Normally I would just delete a wayward email like this, but it seems like you're trying to accomplish something...so I thought I would put aside my jealousy of your location, and it's volleyball conducive weather, to let you know that you have an incorrect email address. My email address "firstname.lastname@example.org" is a compilation of my last name, and my husbands: Kent and Moore. It does not belong to someone named Kent Moore...Kent is probably wondering why he was left out of the email volley, and contemplating finding new friends to play ball with. So please make sure you have Kent's correct email address (because now I'm all worried that he's feeling abandoned), and I'll get back to watching snow melt.
Cheers, Tim Kent
The response from the team was a note filled with gratitude, along with an invite to visit the coast…I’d found my new calling. I could better the lives of my fellow citizens...through redirected emails. Although…when someone is behind on their phone bill, you’d be surprised at how difficult it is to convince Verizon that they are sending the ebill to the wrong address.
What follows is my favorite exchange to date.
THE ORIGINAL WAYWARD EMAIL
While I do realize that those of you with children need time off in the Summer months to spend time with your family, you must realize that the five of you are critical components of the operations' continuity.
With that said, I am honoring Kent's & Mike's request for time in July, however, subsequently there will be no vacation approvals until AFTER Summer and/or when our capital projects which are currently underway are FINALIZED!!
Apologies if you are offended or disappointed, but there is just too much going on and most of you have recently taken some time off already. PLEASE do not make vacation plans in advance!
Please do not ask because I will have to deny your request and it will pain me to do so.
Thank you for your understanding & compliance.
Vice President of Operations
Subject: Re: VACATION
Hi Terri, and her critical team of five...
I was about to get all up in arms about my vacation not being approved, I mean come on, I laid out all my vacation days when I accepted the new creative director position...that was until I realized that I just came back from vacation, and that you have the wrong email address.
I usually just delete these wayward emails...but the recent pleading email from the friends of Kent Moore (who lives in San Francisco) to join his teammates for the rescheduled semifinal round of the city's volleyball league, left me feeling guilty (Susan Chen's mother came all the way from Sacramento to support them)...they almost lost their chance at the championship because I just deleted the email, and didn't alert the team captain to the fact that this address doesn't belong to a volley ball playing San Franciscan named Kent Moore, but rather is the general email account (and has been for 20 years) of a Midwestern gay couple with the last names of "Kent" and "Moore". I'm not as sympathetic about the "gun loving", homophobic, chain emails I get for the Kent Moore who lives in Virginia, or the requests for donations that come in for the Colorado Kent Moore's political friends. I hope he's not too upset that he didn't get to "Sit with Mitt", because I kept hitting "delete"...republicans can be really pushy when they want money, and vindictive when they don't get it...as is evident by the rant of disappointment that the former Dean of Colorado University directed at poor Colorado Kent (like he was solely responsible for the results of the last election). I don't know which of the many Kent Moores is the intended recipient for the lonely housewife/farm animal porn, but its wayward delivery is always good for a laugh, and never fails to brighten my day...I can't bring myself to tell her that "no, we will not be magic together", no matter how much I would like to have a pet goat...but I digress...
Please check your email address for Kent so that he can be kept in the loop, even though it looks like his vacation is already approved, and let him know if he wants to send me his corrected info, I can make sure that all his penis enlargement, home refi, and prescription drug emails are forwarded to their intended recipient...but not the housewife with the goat, I'm keeping her, she is just too funny!
Enjoy your summer,
KentMoore@aol.com, (not Kent
HER RESPONSE TO MY RESPONSE
Dear Kent Moore,
Congratulations on your new position. It obviously affords you time to write personal emails - I LOVE that job.
Needless to say, I am mortified by the content of your beautifully authored Kent Moore email recap.
Apologies for the address error!! I did not realize there are so many Kent Moore's on AOL. Rest assured I will delete your address, Kent Moore, and amend it to reflect Kent Moore's email address.
BTW; for the record, I am not homophobic nor do I play volleyball. I am however a conservative, and it did not kill me not to sit with Mitt - although I certainly would rather sit with Mitt than have a beer with Barack any day, and have yes, I cling to my guns and my Bible!
Thanks for bringing some levity to an otherwise grueling and hectic work day.
Be well, Kent Moore & Carpe Diem!
Vice President of Operations
MY REACTION TO HER RESPONSE TO MY RESPONSE
Sigh...you’ll note, she still got my name wrong…3 times.
*all names, and subsequent email addresses, except mine…oh, and Howard Howard’s, have been changed to protect the identity of their owners.