By Any Other Name
This is not a letter to my editor, Doug Cabral, who is intransigent, immovable, and probably inchoate.
Monsignor Cabral has a policy, which he sticks to out of all reason, of insisting that anything that appears in his paper, and it is his paper, be signed by the name of the author, and that be the one and only name the author has, the legal name. He won't even print a letter, that you want signed "name withheld by request."
I'm sure that some of you would like to get a few things off your chest, which while not libelous, or slanderous, you'd just as soon not put your name to. I mean, through history, even great men have written pseudonymously. Henri Beyle did not sign himself thusly, as author of The Red and the Black, no, he was "Stendhal."
Ben Franklin was "Poor Richard," as well as "Silence Dogood" and "Busybody." Madison, Hamilton and Jay wrote the Federalist Papers under one name, none of theirs: "Publius." Tom Paine's handle was "Common Sense," and later, "The Forester."
I do not put myself in the ranks of this distinguished company, but I do feel I should not be committed to one name only, in my written works, be they Letters to the Editor, a commentary on Island events (like my upcoming jail term), or an appreciation of views versus houses in the great Vineyard scheme of things.
Now down to the gritty.
Doug Cabral insists that anything I write for him must be over the name Peter Ochs. No Ludwig Ochs, no Ludwig Peter Ochs, no Ludovico, no Ludwiga, no Ludwig von Ochsmark. I could go on.
Let me explain. My Social Security card carries the name Peter Ochs. It used to carry the name Peter Oaks. My Vineyard bank checks carry the name Ludwig Peter Ochs, and the bank honors that signature, as well as the signature Peter Ochs.
My birth certificate reads Peter Louis Stephen Ochs.
Very confusingly, "Ochs" became "Oaks" and then back to "Ochs." I'm not clear on how this happened.
"Sir Harry?" Yes, another of my names. I had been in the Bahamas, when Marigny was supposed to have killed Sir Harry Oakes. So when I went up to a school in Canada, with the last name Oaks, what could be more natural than to call me Sir Harry, or Harry for short.
In France, as a young man, Pierre did not sound right, so I became Petaire. That name lasted 40 years, as when Rene, in the little town of Entrecasteux, said: "Petaire, time doesn't pass, we pass."
I made Oaks back into Ochs, to stop people asking me what part of England I was from, but the pronunciation remained the same, as in Phil Ochs, my cousin the folk singer.
Then in the German-speaking lands, I decided to go back to Ox as the sounding of Ochs. They said it was a German name, did I have relatives in Germany? I replied, "My people left Germany a long time ago."
It was in Munich that the whole Ludwigspiel began. I was doing a little drinking, because the French woman with the Venerian Strabismus, that I was trying to revive an old romance with, was discouraging me totalement. I mean totally.
(You remember mad King Ludwig of Bavaria.)
One morning I went downstairs to get some cigarettes, and the man at the Tabak, asked me, "how goes it?" "Wie geht's?"
Well, I said (out of the blue, no forethought at all), "I feel a little Ludwig this morning."
The tobacconist said, "A little Ludwig?"
"Yes," I said, "I had quite a lot to drink last night, and this morning, I feel (and I slapped the side of my head) a little Ludwig in my head."
From that time on, my name was Ludwig.
Thus began my career as Ludwig Peter Ochs, introduced as such in cabarets, and in the cast list of plays.
In Austria,, I am known as Ludwig, Ludo to my friends.
By the way, Ludwig in German is the same as Louis in French, though pronounced Lewis in English, and Louis is one of my middle names. Which I don't use.
So you can see, my dear M'sieu Cabral, how difficult it is for me to stick to any one of my names, let alone the one you insist on.
While we're at it,, Monsignor Cabral, what's with this "Doug" business. Douglas? Dougal? Dougless? What's behind this "Doug" facade? Why this great down on pen-names, noms de guerre? stage-names?
Hoping to remain your obt servant, please allow me to sign myself,
Peter Louis Sir Harry Oakes-Ochs-Oaks Petaire Ludwig Ludovico von Ochsmark & Gay Head