Daily Archives: July 2, 2012
Wow, Anderson Cooper came out. I must be the only person who didn’t know he was gay. He says that he came out because he didn’t want people to think he was ashamed or hiding that fact about himself. Also, he says he wanted to be yet another celebrity to step forward to hopefully make some kids feel okay about who they are.
I think it’s a damned shame that people have to “come out” at all.
I don’t pretend to understand the complexity of what it’s like to be gay in this screwed up society, but I do wonder what it would’ve been like had the equality movement gone a different route. As far as I know the whole violence towards gays thing has been a one-way street. Celebrities are coming out to raise awareness by kind of saying, “Hey, you know the guy you like all the time on TV…he’s gay too. So stop being a dick.” I just feel like there are too many Anderson Coopers and Jim Parsons coming out and not enough “other” people.
I’ve had my fair share of gay men come on to me. I don’t get offended by it or turn into a bigot. I actually see it as a compliment. “I’m so beautiful that women AND men want me. Booyah!” Almost every time it happens it is never the stereotypical gay man that you see on TV. Most of the time it’s a dude that looks like Michael Clarke Duncan from The Green Mile. Even the strongest of bigots would be compelled to be polite in that situation and that’s exactly what I’m getting at.
I think that more bodybuilding, football playing, “I pick up cars in my spare time” gay men need to come forward. If not that, then the Jason Bourne ex-special ops types need to do a PSA. None of that “It gets better” shit either. It should be something scary with a big dude bending a tire iron with his bare hands and the special ops guy holding a grenade and they should look directly into the camera a la Fight Club. “Look, the people you are after are the people you depend on. We cook your meals, we haul your trash, we connect your calls, we drive your ambulances. We guard you while you sleep. Do not fuck with us.”
Me: Thank you for calling customer service, this is Ordale A. May I have the subscriber ID number that you’re calling about today?
Person: What’s your name?
Me: Ordale, last initial A.
Me:Or, like truth OR dare, and then Dale like Chip and Dale.
Person: Or-dale. Well that’s a new one.
I would like to dedicate today’s post to everyone named John, Chris or Mike. Actually, this is dedicated to anyone with a common name that doesn’t require repeating during introductions. I’m currently reading a book where the main character has a brief internal dialogue where she wonders how different her life would be if she didn’t have a unique name. It got me to thinking: If you add up all of the times I was the new student, employee or in some workshop, how many hours of my life have been spent explaining my name?
People with common names don’t have the faintest idea of what the hell I’m talking about. Let’s say your name is Robert. You start school, work, rehab…whatever…and they ask you to introduce yourself. You stand up, “Hi, my name is Rob/Robert/Bob.” Everyone says, “Hi Rob” and things move along. No one asks you to repeat it. They don’t ask you if it means something. No one repeats it back with extra syllables, consonants or accents. Introducing yourself to someone takes all of three seconds and it’s so fast that you probably don’t even think about it.
Well lemme tell you something Bob. Us “strange namers” go through hell. At least I do. I prepare for introductions the way an opera singer prepares for a solo. I make sure my mouth isn’t parched, clear my throat and do those weird lip exercises to aid in enunciation. Then I brace myself for all of the followup comments, keeping in mind that people usually don’t mean any harm. I let the sardonic tones slide as people repeat my name and I feign a smile every single time someone tells me that they’ve never heard it before.
My name isn’t that complicated. Or-dale. I went to school with quite a few Africans andthose are some tongue twisters. My heart goes out to them, because if Ordale throws people off then I know that the Temitopes and Olufemis out there just bring meetings to a screeching halt. People ask me if it means something. They assume that I’m only half Black and mixed with something else. I’m like a roasted pecan color and I’ve had numerous people ask me if I was half-white. Go figure.
Sometimes I make light of it and joke that my name is the result of giving hallucinogenic painkillers to someone during labor and then empowering them to name something. The truth, however, is always stranger than fiction. My mother was considering naming me Dale or Gale. She couldn’t decide. In going over the names aloud she said, “Should I name him Dale or Gale? Gale or Dale? Gale OR Dale? OrDale.” My name is the combination of Dale and the conjunction, “or,” immediately preceding it during that thought process. That’s it.
I lived in the principal’s office in elementary school, so I came to hate the way my name sounded when said aloud. “Ordale Allen report to the office IMMEDIATELY!” I started using my middle initial in junior high to give it a different tone: Ordale J. Allen. It had a nice ring to it like Michael J. Fox, John F. Kennedy or Samuel L. Jackson. It sounded professional and went well with the fact that I used to wear suits to school once a week to hide the fact that I didn’t have a week’s worth of school clothes.
But that had unforeseen consequences. People started wondering what my middle name was. “If Ordale is your first name, what the hell is your middle name?” So then I’d tell them.
Well actually that’s his dad, but yeah, my middle name is pronounced Jor-El. My mother really liked the Superman movies and I think she had a crush on Marlon Brando or something, so she named me after his character. She just didn’t know how to spell it, so I ended up with Jorrel. You’d think being named after Superman’s dad would get you some cool points with kids, but it doesn’t. Instead they point out another obvious fact.
“Your name rhymes! (Insert laughter) Or-dale Jor-rel!”