Now I'm in a small rural town working at a meat store slash deli. (I know; don't try to keep up.) Maybe to make the town feel bigger, almost everyone has two names here. Some names I have written on my ticket slips for Reubens and cheeseburgers: Dirty Ike (whose real name is Ike, but answers to Dirty), Monkey (is that the best you could do, Jared?), Shorty (no idea), Stubby (Karl indeed lost a finger), Music (because Daisy Blossom was too normal?), and Natalie (because why not, Sheryl?)
I am called Abner by someone I just met. I'm a little embarrassed to answer in front of customers (who probably go by Ugly Joe or Tumbleweed), and every time I address Monkey I feel like a big jerk. I'll take Abner over "Little Girl," though, my next nickname. I am even asked if this is my first job, and another encouraging geezer tells me "if you can work here, you can work anywhere!" I know, grandpa. I already have.
I used to know people in Eugene called Doctor and Kiwi, and I thought that was normal. If Eugene ruined me, Richmond fixed me -- you will hardly find a Michael go by Mike there. This all seems weird!
The main fashion here is pajamas: from day to evening. Each street is like a different hall in the same dormitory.
My old coworkers, friends and family -- all city people -- have no ability to comprehend what has become of me. What are you doing again, Abra -- working a fruit stand? Potato-picking? Living in a treehouse?
Yes, I tell them, more or less. And call me Abner.