However, I had thought deeply, but not deeply enough, and I was headstrong, so I made up a whimsical name to scare her with, so that she would accept the name I’d originally chosen.
You might think that was clever, but actually I’d got the idea from a Little Lulu comic book, many years before …
It was in the approximate days of the Sleuth Hound Club, when I lived with my mother in the green house out by the graveyard. At that time I read prodigeously, of Science Fiction, of the Hardy Boys, and of C.S. Lewis’s stories of Narnia. But, I still liked comic books.
Little Lulu, as you may recall, was a sharp little cookie who often had to match wits with a gang of boys that lived in the neighborhood. The boys had a treehouse marked ‘Boys Club’ and ‘Girls Keep Out’, for example.
In this case, Iggy, one of the smaller boys, had come grumbing along the sidewalk. Little Lulu asked Iggy what was wrong.
“It’s Tubby,” Iggy said. “He’s decided to change his name to Lancelot.”
Little Lulu asked, “So what?”
Iggy said that it was hard to remember. The boys kept getting it wrong, calling Tubby, for example, “Lumpalot” and “Lunchalot”. You will recall that Tubby was kind of fat, so this caused dissention.
Little Lulu said she’d help out.
Walking along the sidewalk, Little Lulu spied Tubby, standing vacantly outside the candy store, gazing out toward the street, but clearly with his mind elsewhere. Little Lulu reached into her purse and pulled out a penny.
She walked up to Tubby, thrust the penny into his mouth, and gave his ear a sharp twist. Tubby jumped.
“Ow!” he said. “Ow! Ow! Ow! Why did you do that?”
Little Lulu acted startled. “Oh!” she said, “Tubby! I didn’t realize it was you. I thought you were a bubble-gum machine. Did you know that your head is the exact same shape as a bubble-gum machine? I didn’t realize it was you.”
Tubby stared goggle-eyed.
Little Lulu went on. “In fact,” she said, “I’m going to call you ‘bubble-gum-machine-head’ from now on, OK?”
“What??!!” yelled the outraged Tubby.
“Yes, bubble-gum-machine-head?” said Little Lulu. “Is that OK?”
“No, no!” cried Tubby. “Tubby’s my name. Call me Tubby.”
And that was the end of the trouble with Lancelot.
Now, back around 1984 when I wanted to change my name from Richard French to Arthur Cronos, I’d told Lori and she said she didn’t like the name Arthur Cronos, I remembered my Little Lulu comic book.
I made up a name so atrocious that she was sure to like it less than Arthur Cronos.
The name I made up was ‘Traktor Topaz.’
When I told her, sure enough, the Little Lulu factor came into play, and she decided that Arthur Cronos would be just fine. It’s not exactly the same as the Little Lulu story, but the same principle, don’t you see?
So, first, that is how I became Arthur Cronos; I changed my name legally. You don’t have to go before a judge, but I did, because I wanted a paper to show to my business accounts. The judge said OK, and hit the gavel and my name became Arthur Cronos.
Now, some years later, when I was living with Adrienne in Sausalito, in a lovely apartment overlooking the San Francisco bay, I decided that I was going to practice up, and then start playing music in restaurants, on the Chapman Stick. It’s my nature to like smoke and mirrors, and different names, so I wanted a stage name. I thought of ‘Arthur Angel’, but that seemed altogether too nice.
And then I remembered Traktor Topaz.
On my Traktor Topaz website, you can read more about my adventures at that time, and hear some samples of my music.
Now the funny thing is that, as Traktor Topaz, I began buying and selling used Stick instruments, and that lead to my creating a newsletter with free two-handed tapping lessons. And that led to a really stupid lawsuit. And what with one thing and another, there are now more people around the world who know me as Traktor than as Arthur.
So let this be a lesson to you.
I’m not sure exactly what lesson, but it seems like it ought to be a lesson about something, for God’s sake!