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Mike Tasos: Don’t ask me what’s in a name
Name tag

My sympathies to anyone named Bill. You often get a raw deal.

Don’t believe me?

We all like to get a good deal. Buy a new car and how many times have we said “heckuva deal,” or even better, “I practically stole it.”

Now, think of the last time someone did a happy dance when they realized they were sold a “Bill of Goods?”

Bill, in all likelihood, had nothing to do with it, unless you took a royal pasting from a guy named Bill. 

What’s in a name? Probably not much, but still you have to pity the guy whose head is as shiny as a cue ball and answers to the name of Harry. 

Ditto for the guy who quakes at the thought of getting his bill of goods at the big-and-tall shop for fear of not finding something that fits. It’s a safe bet that oftentimes he introduces himself to the haberdasher, saying “Hidy! My name is Tiny.”

Names are fascinating. At least to me. If you’re not buying it, see if you’ve ever run across:

• Joe, the guy who hates coffee, or

• Neil, the guy who always sits, or

• Bob, the guy who always gets that sinking feeling while in the pool, or

• Matt, the guy who refuses to take things lying down, or

• Homer, the guy who never hit one.

Certainly, there are more examples. I’m just concerned that if I kept on, you’d wonder why you started reading this.

Before moving on, there was a name that has stuck in my mind for 40 years (more on the trip down memory lane, but first back to the name story). An old high school and college friend dated a girl whose grandfather lived in her household. 

Every time he showed up at her front door, freshly showered and ready to go on a date, ol’ Gramps would answer to the door with rheumy eyes and week-old stubble.

“Oh, it’s you again. I thought I told the cops to arrest you last week. I guess even they don’t want you.”

Then he’d shuffle to the stairs and wheeze: “Hey come downstairs. Stagnasty is here again.”

Never before or never since have I heard anyone called “Stagnasty.” But I hope you’re with me and find it a most entertaining name.

If Sirius/XM radio can resurrect the Beatles and give them their own station, then I think it is perfectly acceptable for me to resurrect the name.

So watch out if you show up at my door and I haven’t shaved.

Wait, what am I thinking? You’ll not be showing up at my door. No siree Bob. Not if you see the sign posted in our neighborhood: “No soliciting. If we don’t know you, then don’t bother us.”

Ouch. Like Carl said in Caddyshack: “It’s a little harsh.”

I guess a clueless property management company convinced our HOA board that the sign would convey a message. And it did. A rude one that maybe had more than a dash of overkill.

I think the HOA board bought their own little bill of goods. But in an act of sensibility, the board decided to remove the sign and replace it with a simple, yet effective, “No Soliciting” sign. And I hear the board refused to add: “Or you will be shot!!” 

So the message is clear, Mr. Stagnasty: Don’t bother me. There will be no gunplay as a consequence of your action. Instead, you might have to come in and listen to a slew of old Beatles songs.

“It was 20 years ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play…” Actually, one of the greatest albums ever was released 50 years ago.

Golly, I almost forgot to get back to the 40-year mention, some 14 paragraphs ago. It was 40 years ago today, I taped “Hi Mom” on my mortarboard graduation hat and walked across the stage at Fresno State University.

Four years, a degree and a summer job as a sportswriter at my hometown newspaper, The Bakersfield Californian. I was going to law school. But Elvis died the day I moved to my digs at University of San Diego.

I drove home to get another load to move and my mom was crying. 

Looking back, I’m not sure if she was crying because of Elvis. Or if it was because I came back and she thought the household was rid of me until Christmas.

I think Elvis’ demise while holding a jelly doughnut was some type of an omen. I lasted one year at law school and got a full-time gig covering the Dodgers, the Rams, boxing and other sports. It was a blast.

No way I wanted to torture myself with books when a press box at the Dodger-Yankee World Series was in this 23-year-old’s future.

Me, a lawyer? 

Honestly, who’s going to buy that bill of goods?


Mike Tasos’ column is published every other Sunday. Law school lasted one year, but his love of writing has endured. He hopes he doesn’t have to apologize for that.  Comments can be sent to miketasos@earthlink.net. He is also on Facebook.