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My Good Name



That's the trouble, my friend said. You don't have enough ego to be a real columnist. You don't even have a photograph of yourself. Now, there are columnists out there who never go more than one column without mentioning themselves and how much they know about baked beans or the bossa nova or something.

Another thing, says the friend. Your columns are never about anyone famous. They're always about someone dead or anonymous or both. That's your problem as a columnist. Not enough ego. That's what this go-go culture is about nowadays -- capital M, capital E.

Well, my friend has me -- capital M, capital E -- all wrong. I have ego, ego in spades. You see, I have the recurring fantasy of having things named for me. This to me is the true measure of greatness, and, though I have not yet been so honored, it should only be a matter of time.

MOUNTAIN: The highest elevation in Louisiana is Mount Driskill, named for some unknown and only slightly higher than a pile of my Saturday wash, but I'll take it.

SHIP: Battleships are named for states and cruisers for cities, but destroyers? Check these monikers: Charles F. Adams, Aaron Ward, Willis Lee, Forrest Sherman and Charles Ausburne. Why not the U.S.S. Ronald Virgets? Or if not a destroyer, what about minesweepers, seaplane tenders, frigates, ferry boats or party barges? I'd settle for a "leisure ship," a converted gambling ship outfitted to take sailors on R and R. Those who worked the ship would call her "The Virgie."

BODY OF WATER: Lakes Champlain and Pontchartrain set the tone here. I would settle for Lake Maurepas or Lake Catherine -- who were they anyhow? -- so long as I could hear locals say of Lake Virgets: "This time of year, the big reds are in the shallows, hammering them cockahoes."

HORSE: Always a danger in naming a thoroughbred race horse after you; I keenly remember local TV legend Mel Leavitt being so proud when his namesake was entered in the Kentucky Derby. Being less proud when that namesake ran dead last while imitating an extremely fat man running up Mount Virgets. Also, it would be nice to have an important stakes race named after me: e.g. The Virgets Distaff. Any long-race. For fillies. On grass. It just sounds good to me.

MUSICAL INSTRUMENT: This is a fairly rare occurrence, but in 1846, one Antoine Sax obtained a patent for something called a saxophone. I have an idea for an instrument based on a comb, an ace of spades and an overheated radio -- the virgette.

NOVEL: Not something the high-school kids must read and hate (aka Silas Marner) or something for the gals (aka Madame Bovary). I would drop the diminutive form of my first name and add a catchy subtitle. How's Ron Virgets: The Immortalist?

COCKTAIL: Who can forget the Ramos gin fizz? Or even a Mamie Taylor -- juice of half a lime, three ounces of gin (Bombay) and the rest cold ginger ale? I have a secret recipe involving rum, Old Overholt and Barq's creme soda that's just waiting for some swanky bar to begin offering the Ronrico Virgin.

DISEASE: I would be interested mainly in afflictions involving the libido, though somebody named Krafft-Ebing has dibs on most of those. I prefer something like being unable to eat hot tamales after 11 p.m. or an addiction to Girls Gone Wild videos. "I'm sorry, Mrs. Grant, but he has all the symptoms of Virgets Syndrome."

HOSPITAL: There aren't many, but some hospitals are named for people: Touro and Ochsner come to mind. It seems as though chances improve if you are proficient in medicine or philanthropy. Since I'm regrettably lacking, perhaps I should focus in the area of holistic medicine. How does the "Virgets Intuitive Wisdom Wellness Center and Massage Parlor" sound to you?

SCHOOLS: The biggies are all gone: Loyola, Tulane, Delgado, Dillard, Nunez, etc. And of the smaller schools, there are not many generically named ones out there that could be renamed in my honor. The "R.E. Virgets School for Wayward Women" sounds about right. Proof of age required.

HOTEL: Think Monteleone. Think Le Richelieu. Now think Villa Virgets.

STREET: Maybe just change the name of one of those charming little one-block streets like Trianon Street or Virginia Court or Melodia Drive. That way the change of street signs would be minimal. But, hey, Magazine ain't really named for anyone Š

CHURCH: Usually, you must be a saint. And once they name things for a saint, they never get changed, even if later you learn they never existed (St. Christopher, St. Tammany). Naturally, afflictions (St. Vitus) and volcanoes (St. Helens) are not recommended. Me, I'll be St. Ronald. I had hoped to be the patron of skeptics, but St. Thomas already had that one. So I opted for something linked to my personality (imaginative but unfocused) and happening. So how about St. Ronald, patron of ADD?

What's in a name, Shakespeare said famously. Lotsa stuff, Virgets says modestly.


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