Nearly all my life, I have faced this question. More than a courtesy, it is a challenge, a demand: “Identify yourself.”
In my childhood, I was lost and unsure. Who am I? Am I that guy who carelessly shortens his name, soiling the greatest gift, after life, his parents have given him? Or am I that guy who insists on being called by his proper name, like some pompous Alexander or Maximilian?
This summer, I went to prison. Well, not actually, but I did watch Netflix’s original series “Orange is the New Black,” and therefore feel as though I am something of an authority on the subject of federal penitentiary. Piper Chapman, the show’s WASPy, neurotic protagonist, has led me on a tour of prison life, providing a kind of personal “scared straight” program.