Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Louis Corsair

I have an affinity for names. I am Shakespeare's "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

Long ago, I debated with myself about what constituted my identity. Who am I? Was it my cultural background? Was it my nationality? Was it my race? Was it my job or status as a soldier? Was it the place I lived in or was born in? The philosophical question led me to this, among other conclusions: I am not a name. This leaves open a few playful possibilities. One of them is a lack of attachment to my birth name, which allows me to use other names. Louis Corsair is a name I chose for myself in or about 2006, maybe 2007 when, for the first time, I was a part of a writer's workshop.

It doesn't mean I'm a pirate or aspire to be one.

When I came up with the name I attended Santa Monica College. The school's nickname is "The Corsair" and its students are the Corsairs. I was a Corsair too, a Louis Corsair. Yes, my school spirit was that great. But keep in mind that I attended Santa Monica College immediately after I left the military. Months before my release date, one of my good friends had sold me on the idea of going to the school that was by the beach in Santa Monica. So, I was excited and proud.

You may be wondering if I don't have the same type of love for Long Beach State University, where I study now. Well, that's more complicated. But the main reason is this: The school's nickname is "the Forty-Niners," a reference to the California Gold Rush, and their mascot is a Popeye-looking fellow who is one of these miners. The students are the Forty-Niners. I am a Forty-Niner too. You see the problem?

"Louis Forty-Niner" just doesn't have the same ring that "Louis Corsair" has. And there would be awkward guesses as to what the "Forty-Niner" in my name was a reference to. I'll stick with Louis Corsair. Call that my prejudice.