When I was younger, I'd probably kill myself rather than admit the following: my middle name is NEUMAN.
- For the first quarter century of my life, I hated and hid my unconventional and un-American middle name. I was so detached from the name that I misspelled it as “Numan” on a school registration form in second grade.
- Any kid who discovered my secret name compared me to Alfred E. Neuman from MAD magazine. Time magazine once misspelled his name as “Newman” -- like Paul Newman.
- For a while, when people asked what my middle initial “N” stood for, I’d say that it stood for “None of your fucking business.”
- As a little kid, I was sometimes affectionately called “Noony” by my maternal grandmother. I loved her but hated the nickname.
- In fifth grade, an obnoxious girl who lived near me heard about the nickname and used to follow me to school chanting, “Michael Noony Marcus.” In college, I lived with Indian students who told me that "noony" is the Hindi word for “penis,” which made me feel a bit better. I recently read that "noony" is slang for “vagina.” Now I’m completely confused and may have to consult a guru.
- I once needed a pen name and used the derivative, Mitchell Newman.
After the interview, I got to say few kind words about Joel, his blog and his book, and then I wanted to speak to the interviewer, not the interviewee.
There may be a million Roger Parkers in the world, but the name Roger C. Parker seemed very familiar to me.
I asked if -- and Roger confirmed that -- waaaaay back in 1970, he freelanced a monthly column about retail advertising for High Fidelity Trade News. At that time, I was employed by the mag as assistant editor, for the fabulous salary of $115 per week. It was my first job after college. The money sucked, but I had an impressive title, and was working in the media in Manhattan. Other former classmates were in places like Allentown and Fresno.
If Roger did not use his middle initial 41 years ago, I probably would not have noticed or remembered his name, and we would not have had our telephonic reunion.