What’s in a name?

September 30, 2007

Or more precisely, what’s with the name? You may be at least a little curious about my choice of blogging alias. Why “wellsfargowagon?”

Coming up with a blogger pseudonym was actually the biggest delay in getting this thing up-and-running. I already had some sense of its tone and purpose, and I had plenty to write about for the first few posts. But what the hell to call myself? After all, the name would be set in stone. Changing names means making a whole new blog, so I thought I’d better get it right the first time.

Immediately I dismissed all my current and former AIM names as lame. I came up with them in my mid-teens, at the height of my lameness, so those were nonstarters. Thanks in no small part to Ginger, I had developed an appreciation for multi-puns (words or phrases with more than two alternate meanings). Being the sort who makes connections right and left, I wanted the name to have some word play value.

My given name was an easy starting point. Talking with customer service reps and other strangers through the years, I’ve heard my name repeated back to me as, for example, “Welles,” “Wilks,” “Willis,” “Wills,” and even “Wallace.” Unless I say “Wells as in Wells Fargo” – then they know immediately what it is and how to spell it. And it so happened that “Wells Fargo,” alongside “Wellsie” and “Welzers,” was, and still sort of is, a regular nickname for me. Just last night, even, someone asked me “wouldn’t it be funny if your last name was Fargo?” Convenient, probably, since people never seem to hear my last name right either.

From there, I remembered that Wells Fargo was my bank for four years in little Northfield, Minnesota, a state in which the bank had a major presence. They were a fantastic bank, too, with particularly friendly customer service reps that only the Midwest can feature e.g. “Oh, ya betcha, let’s take that overdraft fee right off of there for ya.”

The real kicker in deciding on the name was a memory (and a photo I’m looking at right now) of my 5th grade performance as Harold Hill in “The Music Man.” As part of a scheme to defraud a tiny Iowa town, I placed orders for band instruments which one day arrived by the Wells Fargo wagon, which excited the townspeople so much than they just had to sing and dance about it. Especially little Winthrop, believing that “it could be, thumpthn’ thpethial… juth for me!” My mom still shows a video of my rendition of “Trouble” to anyone who’ll watch it, and much as I act embarrassed about it, I’m really quite proud of it. Even as a lanky, awkward 5th grader, I could talk up one hell of a storm! After fondly remembering that, and realizing how many tips of the hat I could make, the choice was easy.

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