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Once Upon A Time In The Kingdom of New York
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Is It Because I Look Mexican?
Last Week of School and Writer's Block
Blood, Sweat, and Tears
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Wednesday, June 18, 2008Criminal On The Run
Recently I heard a one of my dad’s Greek friends call him “Gouliélmos”, William in Greek and it brought to mind a time as a kid when I was thought my dad was a criminal on the run.
In order to fully understand my story I have to divulge a bit of my dad’s personal history. Until the age of 12 when his parents finally regained physical custody of him from his grandparents and legally changed his name, my dads’ name had been John. Despite the name change my father refused to respond to William so his family was forced to continue to call him by his nickname of “Johnny”, something they still do to this day.
My mother calls my father “Willie” and up until he met my mother he had never allowed anyone to address him as such but they struck a deal between them. As long as she got to call him Willie he’d get to call her “little one”, “female” and “my woman” and keep his nut sack intact. It was their version of the bartering system at work. My parents are twisted people, what can I say?
One day when I was around 8 years old dad decided to take me to his office with him and let me play secretary something I loved to do as a kid. He was catching up on some paper work when his boss stopped in to say hello to me and as he spoke to my dad I heard him call him “Velvel”. That’s when it dawned at me that my dad had a lot of different names. His friends at the diner called him "Vilius”, Mrs.O'Cahan a tenant of one of the properties he managed called him “Uilliam”, some friends called him “Wilhelm”,the crazy Russians that lived a couple of floors above us called him “Vil'gel'm”, the super down the block called him "Viliam" his family called him “Johnny”, his co-workers called him “Bill”, my mom called him “Willie”, my mother's Spaniard grandmother called him "Guillén" and now his boss was calling him “Velvel”. I was one confused munchkin.
I remember staring at my dad as he spoke with his boss and thinking What is my daddy’s real name? I figured his real name must have been Johnny since that's what my grandparents called him and that all the other names were aliases. For a long time I thought my dad was running from the cops or in a witness protection program. Every time a cop car would drive by our block or one of the neighborhood beat cops would greet us I’d hold my breath expecting my dad to be busted and hauled off in handcuffs. Because of this whenever anyone asked me what was my dad’s name I’d reply “Daddy” out of fear that I’d reveal his true identity. Man,I was a nervous wreck! Of course people were starting to think I was type slow since it seemed that at the age of 8 I still hadn't managed to learn my dad's name. Months passed before I found out that his friends had been calling him William in their native language.
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