Naming Thaddeus Thunk
Thaddeus Thunk, sat miserable and slumped in his office high above the Friday afternoon cacophony of Silom Road and tried again to avoid naming the cause of his disquiet. He knew that he had to try just as well as he knew that the effort would come to nothing. It always had.
You see, Thaddeus Thunk had hated his name for as long as he could remember having it. He thought he could remember the bitter disappointment of the very first time he heard the words from his mother's lips. A hated named inscribed on him by an unknown father and a hate-filled harridan mother who, not long after he first heard the words, would abandon him to the care of a succession of syphilitic and choleric relatives who had as little time for him then as he now had for his own name. The name, the name, the naming of a disgrace and a disappointment. He let out a deep sigh that had begun recently, but inexorably, to sound more and more like a moan, and lent forward to lift his drink from his desk. Glancing tiredly at his reflection in the tower window over the rim of his glass, he sunk back into his chair and mused on having once heard that a man's face is the map of his life, that a face maps the contours of the sins and omissions perpetrated by a name. And the name; what if the name dictates the life and so the face? That would explain a lot, perhaps even too much, but it would certainly explain why Thaddeus Thunk was having these thoughts when to all outward appearance he was on top of the world, at the top of his game, a shining success whose accomplishments should have brought reward rather than grief, a life lived rather than acted.
It hadn't always been like this. There was a time when the name could be held at arms length. A time when every success held the name in abeyance for while longer, when he was not who he was and could hope that he never would be. But, like the weight of gravity which with each year inches a man closer to the earth and sleep, the name would always beckon. It would claim him in his dreams, and it would chase him by day. The name wasn't benign, it was malignant and, while there had been remissions, he knew that it would eventually claim him and he now knew this with a dread like certainty that sat in his chest like a heart attack.
“Make a name for yourself” they said to him in his youth, his years of rising sap. But in the end every success simply tied him to his name more profoundly – report cards, transcripts, contracts, social notices, invitations, driving licenses, passports, visas – when he had hoped they might, if only ever so slightly, shift him sideways from the horror of his appellation. Escaping the name had become not just an obsession but the obsession of his life.
It was impossible that it could be as easy as changing his name by deed poll, going to the temple or going to the soothsayer and getting a name that might be luckier and lighter. No, these names would simply be code for his name; they would be only make-up on a pig's lips.
Nor did he need an alias. It was most assuredly sure too late for that. What he needed was a nothing. A something-nothing that would eat away the inscriptions left on his soul by his name like acid working on the face of a coin.
To be unnamed, to be nobody, a no-name, that, he knew now with a dreadful certainty, was the only way to escape the living death of this name, the name that would inscribe his death notice and forever blemish his too short existence for all that would come after. But how to do it, how indeed to do it?
Friday afternoon at 3 PM and Thaddeus Thunk was where he always was on a Friday afternoon, undecided as to whether something was better than nothing or nothing better than something. Turning his cell phone off and speaking to no-one on his way out, he quickly left his office and made his way down the stairs and on to Silom Road. Having crossed the stationary traffic, he began walking up the squalor of daytime Patpong. He had almost brought a smile to his lips with the memory of the name of the film No Country for Old Men when, from one the dark retreats of daytime Silom, the words rang out harsh and ugly and directed at him – “Hey Farang” – and for the first time since infancy Thaddeus Thunk smiled the smile of the enlightened dead. Who would have thunk it?
I must admit this brought a wry smile to my face!