I tried. I swear to the gods, I tried. And when I consider what I've tried, all I can hear are the immeasurably wise words of Popeye the Sailor Man echoing in my head:
"I yam what I am, an' tha's all what I yam."
When my little sister contacted me almost a year ago, I was reminded that I'm not the lone Bunche out there, not a unicorn-like creature of legendary rarity whose like will ne'er be seen again when the forces of civilized man eradicate all that is wild, weird, and free (to say nothing of flowery and pretentious). Shaken by that realization, I attempted to ditch being referred to as "Bunche" and return to just plain old Steve, a name I shed for the most part when I hit college and went through the inevitable trials of trying to sort out who and what I am (or "yam"). You see, Steve was a reminder of the smotheringly overprotected and terribly unhappy adolescent who wasn't allowed to grow up while trapped at home, and Bunche was a family name that had no meaning for me since it's still open to debate as to where it originated and just who some of my paternal-side ancestors were, so of the two Bunche was the one ripe for use and reinvention as the proper nomenclature for a new entity.
During those wild and hazy days — about two solid years of which have been blurred and partially excised by the miasma of copious marijuana smoke and innumerable beers — I reinvented myself as something of a cultured wildman, a warrior scholar and blissed-out, would-be neo-shaman who somehow bridged the worlds of the erudite thinking man and the primal brute who lived to sate his most base and immediate needs. In other words, Bunche helped me set out on a path to gaining a sense of inner strength and butching up a bit.
After graduation I still kept the Bunche identification, likening it in my head to a cool caveman sort of name, like Korgg or something, only it really was the surname found on my birth certificate. Being referred to as Bunche also came in handy when I entered the ranks of the Mighty Marvel Bullpen and found myself to be one of four Steve's within the same department, so from that moment on I was never called Steve by anyone other than my mother — who had long since been trained not to call me by my despised birth name, the too-fancy "Steven" — a handful of folks I grew up with, and one or two of my lovers. It was always Bunche, Buncheman, or the delightful "Grandpa," an honorific bestowed upon my by a very young and, not surprisingly, drunk Steve Hughes some twenty-one years ago when our three-year age difference was somehow considerable. Ain't relativity a bitch?
But then my sister re-entered the picture and I decided it would cause less confusion if, when we were in the same place, I went by Steve, trying to finally sound like a grownup and thereby saving my sister and I a case of whiplash when responding to someone yelling, "Hey, Bunche!!!" I even went so far as to never mention to my current employers and co-workers that I ever went by Bunche, and in the months that I've been here at the design gulag I've realized that I've lost a major part of what makes me Me by attempting to be normal. What the fuck was I thinking? I'm only Steve to a select few family members and intimates, and that my true name is once and for all Bunche, a unique, rounded, guttural sound that approximates a cough or a barking noise when said properly.
So when I fuck off out of my current employment Acheron — a day fast approaching — I will henceforth be known as Bunche, and Steve will be reserved for legal paperwork or the lips of a bed mate. I don't give a fuck if it sounds undignified or like the name of some beloved stuffed animal, it's my fucking name and that's all there is to it. "I yam what I yam, an' tha's all what I yam."
Shit, I feel better just for having put that in writing!