The Boy With No Name

May 3, 2007

He was born Harvey Alistair Crouelei, and at the age of ten, he told his parents he was getting rid of his name.

He didn’t like his first name. His middle name was too old, and girly too, for that matter. And his last name was way too hard to figure out.

His parents, bemused, asked him what name he wanted instead. This gave him several moments pause, until he finally answered, earnestly, “I don’t know.” He had weighed in his head every name his friends had, that he had envied for so long – but now that he had his pick, he found each name somewhat wanting.

His parents thought the matter resolved, but no – he merely was taking his time to ponder. To figure out the perfect name.

When his parents found his diary, filled with page after page of different names, they were no longer bemused. When they realized that his fascination with names was taking over all else in his life, they told him to let this foolishness go. If he really wanted to, when he was a grown man, he could have his name legally changed – but they weren’t going to let him waste his youth on this.

He told them that he could change his name whenever he wanted to, regardless of the law. He just had to find the right one – and his youth was his own, to do with as he wished, thank you very much.

They did not much care for that, but their son did well in school, with the only concern being his unwillingness to respond to his given name. Still, he managed to succeed despite this one flaw, and applied himself to his studies, and in the passage of several years, won a scholarship to a university of some reknown. His field – linguistics.

Having come of age, and left his parents house – perhaps for good – he continued his search. He studied names. He studied cultures, and how names were given. He studies meanings, he studied structure.

And yet, with the power at hand to claim a name of his choice, nothing seemed good enough. Nothing seeded to fit.

He published several books – anonymously – that were regarded as great strides in his field, though he didn’t care about impressing his colleagues. He took the money, instead, and he began to travel.

That’s what brought him here, to Tony’s Bar and Grill on this fine evening. He’s been searching all over the world. Getting advice from every source, from wise men to drunken fools.

He’s spent the evening telling us his story, and now Johnny and the crew are offering up their own advice.

“You should, like, get some Peyote, dude. Make like the Indians, yeah? They’d get all high off the stuff, and then go in search of a, whatchacallit, spirit animal to name themselves, ya know?”

That wasn’t quite the way it worked – I should know, I’ve got a fair share of native blood in me, and my mother’s father had spent many years telling me stories of the old ways. But it clearly sounded plausible enough for the stranger, as he paused, and considered it, before shaking his head. “No… I do not think I’d like to be named after an animal.”

The others gave similar advice, and after an hour of useless suggestions, he finally stood, thanked them for their advice, and took his leave.

I stayed in the back of the room, sipping my drink, and keeping my silence to myself. I had my own theory on how he might find a name, but it wouldn’t be any advice he would be happy to hear.

See, I think that every soul is defined, at heart, by their role and their place in this world. That there is, yes, a name out there that utterly defines an individual. But this fellow… if he is defined, it is by his calling and his quest, and that quest is one that will come to an end as soon as his true name is found. Finding that very name would, itself, invalidate it and make it a lie.

One day, perhaps, he’ll realize that, but it must be on his own. He wouldn’t listen to my words, no more than he would listen to his parents. He has to find it within himself to put this quest aside.

Something one day might shock him out of it – true love, perhaps, or a skirmish with death. Something will override his failed journey, and maybe he’ll figure out that he must wait for his name to come to him. For as long as he pursues it, though, it will remain forever out of reach. He cannot force it to take shape, nor forge it from words and lessons. He must open himself and discover it from within, not without… and until he learns that lesson, I see him wandering from town to town, from one side of the world to the next, forever unnamed, unknown, and undefined.

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