In Pari Materia What’s in a name?

I was waiting in line at a “fast food” place the other day. Two things about that: Why do they call it fast food anymore? And yes, even hot-shot attorneys eat blue collar burgers for lunch.

Anyway, I noticed that now the computerized cash register wants your first name when you order. Doesn’t that seem a bit intrusive? I’m sure that somebody up in the dizzying heights of Burger Upper Management got the bright idea that it would make us all feel like we were part of the McFamily. But to tell the truth, I don’t like everybody in the store to know that my lunch comes in a kiddie meal. Really. Try ‘em. They’re about the size that hamburgers used to be before we were convinced that a sandwich the size of your head isn’t actually fattening.

Anyway, as the line slotted along a young lady approached the counter with a tray for “Rat.” Since there was no one waiting who had multiple face piercings and jailhouse tats, I wondered if somebody was joshing the computer. Visions of slander lawsuits filed by the Sunshine Arches against a local smart ass began to dance in my head. “Your Honor,” the stentorian, big-city lawyer would intone, “the Defendant obviously intended to convey to all patrons present the assertion that my client’s excellent food was only fit for rodents.” In my daydream, Sunshine Arches would recover a multi-zillion dollar damage claim against the kid and, in effect, own him or her in servitude forever. Come to think of it, maybe that’s just being a fast food employee.

Anyway, when the food was delivered I could not help but ask the fellow if Rat really was his name. Fortunately, instead of punching me in the nose and telling me it was none of my damn business, he laughed and told me it was nickname he picked up in Afghanistan. He was the guy who went into the small, dark places with a flashlight and a Beretta to ferret out wickedness. I thanked him for his service and his willingness to share that story. I gave him one of my cards and told him that I was a vet, too, and would be happy to answer any question he might have about VA benefits. Gratis. He said he appreciated that but that he did have a non-VA question if I didn’t mind. Certainly, I responded, and was floored to discover that he wanted me help him with a name change. “Why?” I asked. “Is it the nickname?” He told me no, just that he had always hated his first name, Elmer, and wanted to get rid of it. Sure, I said, and we sat down to eat our chow.

Loculus

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