You Can Call Me Al

Somebody once suggested that, if I ever end up writing for a living, I should adopt a pseudonym to release my work under. I thought about this for a while, and at first it seemed cool that I could have some amount of mystery around my true identity, but I quickly put it to bed when I couldn’t come up with anything decent. Not only that, but nobody would ever know what I had written was my work! This blog therefore carries my regular birth name, as I hadn’t ever expected to replace it when it began three years ago, but this week I suddenly thought of a story I feel compelled to tell here. It gave rise to the most likely alternative I could ever have to “Mason Hawker” – and all through a simple misunderstanding.

If the weather behaves itself on Sunday, I hope to go back to archery again, as various reasons have prevented me from going since shortly before my birthday in August. Before that, though, the club held a session in early June that allowed us regulars to meet the newest arrivals to the group at a relaxed and casual shoot. The weather was perfect for it, with not a single cloud in the sky or breath of wind in the air, and the turnout was much bigger than I had expected – especially when you consider that we had previously been quite a small club, on a field off the beaten track. Dad thought that there could have been as many as 50 people present, meaning there would be ample opportunity for mingling throughout the session. Sure enough, we all chatted away to one another, shaking hands and making introductions as we shared bows (since there were more people than there were bows to go around) and snaffled chocolate bars with tea at half-time. It had been a positive shoot for me so far – I’m more rusty on some days than I am on others, but today I had hit my fair share of golds on the target, and I was pleased to have stretched the muscles in my arms dealing with a sixteen-pound bow. I therefore felt like I’d earned my cuppa and chocolate bar, both of which were gratefully accepted and went down a treat. As I sat quietly for a moment, pondering the morning’s results and the rest of my day, I could see one of the new members approaching in the corner of my eye, and quickly turned my head to greet them warmly. It’s taken us a while to get here, I’ll admit, but this is the point at which I was unwittingly given my potential pen name in just a single fleeting moment.

As is customary when two or more people meet for the first time, our exchange swiftly reached the stage where names would have to be swapped. The man to whom I was speaking was – and is – very friendly, but I was still determined, as I always am, not to trip over my words and make a good first impression. Naturally, therefore, the inevitable happened, and my hopes of avoiding any awkwardness were quickly flushed down the toilet.

He’d given me his name (which I’ve since forgotten, I might add). Good. Things were going well. All I had to do was say my own in return, and then my work would be done. I waited for the question:

“What’s your name, sorry?”

“Just say it, you idiot,” I thought to myself. My lips parted, ready to speak. And after a hesitant second, sound emerged. “Er…Mason,” I uttered timidly.

Note the “er”, which definitely was not intended to be part of the end response. My companion should have completely disregarded that first bit – and definitely should not have mistaken it for my first name.

“Al Mason?” he asked, somewhat confused by my unease.

I corrected him, of course, but there you have it – Al Mason, an inconspicuous fusion of my own real name and a misheard false one. It’s not going to catch on, but for the sake of this post, as my old drinking buddy Paul Simon once sang, you can call me Al. I trust there’ll be no such confusion on my next archery outing.



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