Wednesday, April 2, 2014

I have no middle name (and how F. Murray Abraham got his enigmatic F.)

We’re immersed in so many complicated TV shows right now I sometimes have trouble keeping all the dense plots straight.

It happens with “Walking Dead,” “Justified,” and “Dexter,” and it happened again last night with “Homeland.”

We were catching up on the second season and I found myself trying to remember if Brody’s good or evil, if Carrie’s on or off her meds, and just how long I was going to have to wait before Brody’s luscious wife Jessica decides it’s time to take off all her clothes and make me momentarily forget all my other troubles.

Then something happened that completely derailed my train of thought and sent my mind off on a good long graze.

What happened?

F. Murray Abraham appeared on screen.

So I stopped thinking about the other plot details and began wondering what the F. stands for.

Fred? Franklin? Forrest? Felix? Floyd?

As soon as the show concluded I looked it right up.

Turns out it stands for  . . . nothing!

It’s just F.

It’s true. I read where he was born Murray Abraham and just thought the name was too ordinary to make an impression so he “framed it” with the enigmatic F.

That’s not all I learned. Turns out Murray Abraham was born in 1939 right here in Pittsburgh. He's outstanding at his craft and won the Oscar for best actor in 1985 for his role in “Amadeus.”

You can now bank on it that one day I’ll forget our anniversary, my children’s birthdays and the five times in five hours I’ve been reminded to bring milk home, but I’ll never, ever forget that the F. in F. Murray Abraham is meaningless and that the dude was born in Pittsburgh, the F. City of F. Champions. 

I suppose I dwell on initials more than most folks because I have no middle name.

I’m simply Christopher Rodell.

So if I have a monogrammed sweater it looks like I’m an ardent fan of the Colorado Rockies when, in fact, I’m wholly indifferent to the Denver-based ball club.

Our parents decided against giving us middle names because they both loathed theirs. Mom was born Rachel Mae; Dad, Paul Russell Rodell.

I’ve always felt it was very unfair of them. If that’s really how they felt, then all they had to do was name me something besides Christopher Russell or Christopher Mae Rodell.

And, you know, Christopher’s not the easiest male name to lug through life, either. Many juvenile friends still call me with Chrissy because it rhymes with Sissy and they hope it’ll make me feel less like a real man. I’m not going to say the cruel taunting makes me actually feel less like a real man, but it does sometimes make me burst into tears, which is fine because I keep reminding myself it’s okay these days for a real man to cry.

But I am chagrined at not having a middle name.

Cody or Clint would be cool because then I could be C.C.R. — and I love Creedence. And Christopher Arthur Rodell would have some automotive zip.

And I don’t even need the whole name. Consider Harry S Truman.

Careful readers will notice what looks like a typo in his name. In fact, his middle “name” is merely an initial.

His middle name is S.

Or, actually, his middle name is S

Harry S Truman has a middle initial but no middle name. Turns out it was not uncommon for people of Scotch-Irish descent to bestow single letters for the middle names. It’s in character with a people renown for thrift.

To me, his name always sounds like a nickname given to him by old Army buddies with whom he used to shower: “Here comes that hairy ass Truman.”

With S Truman and F. Murray as my inspirations, I’m now wondering if it’s not too late to give myself a dandier handle.

I’m thinking Chris T Rodell. Internet search engines would inevitably recognize it as ChrisT Rodell.

Jesus! Christ Rodell!

I believe it would lead multitudes of new eager readers seeking bloggers with messianic credentials.

And that’s as good a place as any to conclude a post that began wondering just what the F.

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