Negative Name

May 29, 2008
By Cody Behan, Cherry Hills Village, CO

If I were Mr. and Mrs. Behan, rifling through a baby book, I believe that the last possible combination of names I would elect for my child would be William Cody. However, since those titles apparently leaped off the pages, and my existence and opinion only was acknowledged in thought, I didn’t have the influence in name choice as I would later have appreciated.

William, the inherited name from Mr. Behan, is a staid sound; and one that appears on a mildly decorated business card, pairing with the subtitle of “Attorney at Law” or some other respectable position of meaning. This may, in fact, be the reason that Mr. and Mrs. Behan saw fit to dress my identity in the casual attire of “Cody” rather than the formal dress of “William.”

The baby book defines William as the strong-willed warrior. But the definition of ink bled into pages is irrelevant. But rather my self definition of strong spirit is what I bleed into the world around me, a permanent stain, remembered only by the ink I bleed into pages; the same ink I defied long ago.

Opting for the casual-dressed identity, I approach the world under the mask of Cody. This name, defined by the same book that called William a warrior, is now depicted as a cushion. I know that this is the cushion that invites a beating. Sitting there, singularly innocent on the therapist’s couch, begging anyone to scream into its cotton, fleshy mass.

William Cody. This is the name clinging to the dew in the early hours, the name found in between the spaces of satin silk of the sultry spider’s web, silently suspended among the negative space in the world, out of sight, and even further out of the minds swarming the busy streets. It is the letter’s etched in the glass of a lamp post, illuminated only in the dark, when distracted eyes divert to the flame. It is the spotlight, enlightening the stage upon where the actors are praised, but never is thanks attributed to the spotlight. It is the negative name, never noticed neither neglected while accompanying the selfish contrast that continuously upstages both William and Cody.

A negative name, which poses the question: “If, in fact, this name were negative, could I exist without that contrast which I so utterly loathe?”

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