(originally published on Facebook July 1, 2018)
I have preferred that people call me Vincent since 2011, but I find that some of you have continued to call me Vinny. I’ve thought to myself, Wow, it’s like they haven’t gotten the memo. And then I recently realized: I’ve never actually “sent” the memo. Some of you I’ve told, some I’ve give my rationale for changing my name, and some of you have no idea this change has taken place. So, as I’m about to be married and will see so many of you who are used to referring to me by my former name, I think it’s a good time to rectify (and create) the record. So here it is, the official request and explanation for why I wish you to call me Vincent.
After Heather died in 2010 I felt as if I had entered a new world. I began the process of reinventing myself, and changing how I interacted with people. I wanted to demarcate this new portion of my life with something concrete. Not that I desired to forget Heather (which I couldn’t do in any fashion even if I tried) but just to acknowledge that one part of my life was over and another had begun. One way I thought of doing this was by changing my name. I toyed with taking a new last name, but then Rebecca, my girlfriend at the time, began calling me “Vincent” because she’d seen that on my business card, and I liked the sound of it. I’ve always gone by Vincent as an author and in the business world, and I realized that I only needed to “change” my name to, well, my actual given name. And this would only be a small adjustment to folks in my family and social circles, compared with changing my last name to Colossus, e.g., which I considered for a hot second. Ironically, at the beginning of our relationship Heather had wanted to call me Vincent but I resisted and she desisted.
It is not a casual thing, this “new” name of mine. When people call me by my former name I actually become pained—it doesn’t feel right, it is a harkening back to a time that is gone, and I feel momentarily stymied, as if I’m being dragged into the past. This is not, I want to again emphasize, that I wish to rid myself of the memory of my time with Heather; I actually spend a great deal of time thinking about her and all that I shared and learned with her, and I write about it fairly intensely. But I also (and mostly) exist in the moment, and here in the present I am decidedly Vincent. I know this change will sadden many of my cousins who were so tickled to introduce me or otherwise refer to me as “My Cousin Vinny.” Ok, you’ve had the laugh for more than twenty-five years, which is a pretty good run for that shtik. It’s enough already. Of course I realize that you might slip up and still call me by my former nickname, and it’s okay if you forget here and there, I’m not holding anyone’s feet to the fire; I’ll be satisfied as long as you make the effort to remember and respect the fact that I am now Vincent.
End of memo.