Beemer (dr_tectonic) wrote,

True Names


At long last, I have jumped through the proper hoops, and Facebook now once again identifies me as Beemer, and it is such a relief I can't even tell you.

It was one of those low-grade background stressors that you get so used to that you can't tell how much it was bothering you until it's gone.

I was planning to post more about the whys and hows of all that, but I've been writing up the story of how I got my name in the first place, and it got long. So maybe later.

But since it's coming up on 24 years (!) that I've had the name, and since I've met a lot of people since then who've never heard the whole story, I thought I'd share.

(The TL;DR version: it's a nickname from college.)

So back when I was an undergraduate at MIT, I lived at one of the 'Tute's Independent Living Groups, TEP. (I call it an ILG rather than a fraternity (which it was - Tau Epsilon Phi) because most people think of parties and binge drinking and less savory things when they hear "frat", and TEP was all about 30-some undergrads living together in a big brownstone (the haus). It was off-campus housing + chosen family + weird subculture = home.)

Anyway, TEP had a tradition of giving every one a nickname. This dates back, so the tale goes, to a time when there were six guys living in the haus named Mike, all of whom were tall and blond. This was before cell phones and there was only one incoming phone number for the whole place, so you'd call and somebody would (eventually) answer the phone and then yell for whoever it was to pick up the phone. People would call up and ask for Mike, and the residents would ask "which one", and the callers would say "tall blond Mike", and the residents would ask "Which one?!". And thus, nicknames came into use.

Nicknames were assigned soon after people arrived, which is to say, at the end of rush, which at the time lasted for about four and a half days. It started on Friday afternoon of R/O (Registration/Orientation) week, bids could be given out starting on Sunday morning and accepted starting Monday morning, and the whole business was basically done by Tuesday. So on Tuesday and Wednesday nicknames would start appearing on the whiteboard by the front desk. Being based on somewhat superficial information and given out by people with a collectively weird sense of humor who'd been running on three hours of sleep per day for several days, the names tended to be peculiar and only tenuously connected to individual they were attached to. For example:

* T-Stop got his name because his last name is Kindel, and Kendall Square is the T station for MIT.

* N'Djamena is named after the capital of Chad. (One guess what his first name is.)

* Sneaker was nicknamed Sneaker because he was wearing the same Converse sneakers as a visiting alum, and someone sleep-addled pointed and said "Sneakers!"

*Bungee was nicknamed Bungee because "it's a good name; we need to name *somebody* Bungee". (I remember supporting the same argument for Spackle a year later.)

Et cetera.

As for me, at that point in my life, I wore Sperry topsiders and had a tendency to tuck my shirt in. Golan decided that this meant I was a yuppie, and that I should therefore be called Beemer. And so it was.

I wasn't very fond of it at first, but it stuck, and before long it was just my name. As is the case today, I still used my given name for official purposes, but socially I was 100% Beemer. By my senior year, I was being introduced to people as Beemer and they'd say "Oh, you're Beemer! I've heard about you!" (I was never able to ascertain any details about what they'd heard, but it seemed to be good things, at least...)

So anyway, then I graduated. I came back to Colorado for grad school and went from having a chosen family of 20-some brothers plus a fair passel of friends outside the house to near-zero on the social front. I had no good friends from high school left in the area and a fairly small cohort of fellow students, plus I was living in a rented room that first semester. It really, really sucked.

At Christmas break that first year, my fraternity "little brother" Wumpf/Rodan (a.k.a. Kevin, who managed to pick up two nicknames), who was from Castle Rock, was back in town and invited me to a holiday get-together. Which yes, of course. So I met some of his high school friends, and they seemed like a pretty good crowd. A few weeks later, I got an invite to come see Twelve Monkeys with some of them, and we had a good time.

I thought to myself, this is a perfectly good social circle that Wumpf's not using because he's off in Massachusetts. It's mine now.

So I started hanging out with them, and became friends with them, and with their friends, and their friends, and in pretty short order had bootstrapped myself back into having a decently-sized social network made up of awesome people.

And, of course, because I had met them through somebody I knew from MIT, I was introduced to them as Beemer. And to all of their friends as Beemer. And once more, while people from school knew me as Seth, socially I was Beemer.

And since it was through some mutual friends from that crowd that I met Jerry, I'm Beemer to my hubby, too. And although I've met a couple people in the bear crowd via other channels (work or grad school) and they therefore know me first by my given name, the vast majority of our bear social network grows from nuclei around Chris & Todd and Pyro, to whom I was introduced as Beemer.

So that's me.

And of course, the last name Tectonic comes from this blog handle right here, which I mulled for quite some time to be sure I liked it before taking the plunge and starting an LJ. Attaching my legal last name to my nickname always felt a little odd to me, so once I was Dr. Tectonic, of course I was Dr. Beemer Tectonic.

(And if you've ever seen me use the monicker Baron Mustache-Wax: it dates from way back in the Dawn Times of blogging, before LJ even, when the idea was still new and journalers were very chary about saying things about other people online that could be connected to their real-world identities. My friend Jessie had such a blog, visited Denver, and wanted to mention me in a post. I said "call me Baron Mustache-Wax," because (1) I was waxing my mustache pretty heavily back then, and (b) the initials of Baron Mustache-Wax are BMW.)

And now you know!

the more you know
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