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Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014

Playing the name game not always fun

Friday, July 1, 2011

(Photo)
Just the other day I read with interest about how Gov. Mitch Daniels has scarred a poor kid for life.

Of course, I don't mean literally. It's not like he made some kid wear a trucker cap backward and ride behind him on his Harley down Mass Ave.

No, I'm talking about Gov. Mitch and the nickname he has created for one of Indiana's best and brightest -- the new Hoosier High School Math and Science Award, heretofore known as "Mr. Math."

Mr. Basketball? In Indiana we understand that. Mr. October? That's got some real cachet. Mr. Wizard? Not bad for a science guy. Mr. T? Initially I was skeptical, but obviously it has had some staying power.

But Mr. Math? On the cool-kid scale, that's just a little north of Mr. Potato Head.

Poor Jeffrey David Shen of Park Tudor is now "Mr. Math." Better than Captain Logarithm, to be sure, but still an albatross of entitlement.

To Shen's credit, his accomplishments are legendary. Scored a perfect 800 (oh, who hasn't?) on the math portion of the SAT. Nailed a perfect 36 (piece of cake) on the ACT. And, if you've been keeping up with those acronyms, you know by now, he's headed to MIT.

Want to get an atomic wedgie and get tossed in the frat house swimming pool? Just tell your college brethren to call you "Mr. Math" and see what that gets you. Better off telling them to address you as "Otter" or "Flounder."

Animals! ...

College can be cruel that way.

Way back in another lifetime I was dating a Mizzou coed who went home most weekends to what I thought was a little farm with cows and chickens and e-i-e-i-o and all that. Turns out it was daddy's huge cattle ranch.

Remember now, this was way back before cellphones were even conceived, so I had no idea how her weekend had gone until she got back to campus Sunday evening. Excitedly she called my floor -- there was only a phone in the hallway back in those dark ages -- and gushed about being queen of something or other.

To this day I blame the miscommunication on static in the old GTE phone lines (remember how they became virtually inaudible with just a drop or two of moisture in the atmosphere?). I swear she told me she had been named "Charlie's Beef Queen." I envisioned some rural drive-in restaurant, not unlike Al's on "Happy Days," staging its own queen contest, all in the name of some meaty promotion.

Turns out she was actually Missouri's Charolais Beef Queen. Sash, tiara, the whole nine yards (1,200-pound steer not included). Truth be told, I couldn't have told a Charolais from a Simmental (although I didn't know they weren't "semi-tall cattle" for quite a while either).

Compounding that little miscue, I proceeded to tell just about everyone the other side of the Mississippi she had been named "Charlie's Beef Queen."

Yet she sensed I wasn't overly impressed. That I even snickered a bit in relating the story. And soon, I was history. Mr. Beef Jerky.

The incident did earn me a nickname for a while.

Yep, the boys in the house called me Charlie.

Not Charlie Hustle. Not Charlie Tuna. Not even Ground Chuck. Just Charlie.

After all, they had no beef with me. Even felt a little sorry for me, I came to realize.

Sorry, Charlie ... but at least I was never "Mr. Math."