Archive for August 2005

August 15th, 2005

Iceman? This is Spaceheater, Do You Copy?

In case you haven’t heard, I got myself a new email address recently. My family has cancelled their Mindspring internet service, and so “rwitch@mindspring.com” is no longer active. The new way to email me is at either rwitch@gmail.com, or at my new RoadRunner address, which is not rwitch@nc.rr.com — believe it or not someone already has this. It’s spaceheater@nc.rr.com.

“Spaceheater” is an old nickname of mine, and like many old nicknames, there is a colorful, hilarious story behind how I got it…. Ok, you’d think there was a colorful, hilarious story behind how I got it. Once you hear the truth, you’re going to wish you could have gone on believing whatever colorful, hilarious story you’d thought up yourself…and then a little part of you will die….

So here’s how it happened:

In 2003, I went to Washington, D.C. to attend a large anti-war demonstration with Kate and her hippy, activist friends. After spending the day walking around in the freezing cold, chanting, participating in a drum circle, and trying to stay clear of the crazy people who don’t consider a protest successful unless they’ve been maced, tackled to ground, and handcuffed, our group retired to an appropriately bohemian coffee shop where we could talk about how the protest compared to all the other protests we’d been to and the goings-on in Chapel Hill and subcultural theory. Since it was my first major protest and I had no idea what was going on in Chapel Hill and they don’t teach us post-modern literature in picture-making school, I devoted most of my time to determining what head gestures I should make and reminding myself not to let my mouth hang open.

At one point, however, one of Kate’s friends named Nicole was recalling a story about her roommate’s Dad coming to their dorm room and having a fit about how close a space heater was to their curtains. The only part of the conversation I initially caught though was her saying, “Sarah’s Dad. The space heater,” in a frustrated tone. Only what I heard was “Sarah’s Dad: The Spaceheater.” I thought this person’s Dad was “The Spaceheater.”

I burst into laughter. Imagine, a middle-aged man who walks around, insisting that everyone call him “The Spaceheater?” It’s either the coolest or the most pathetic thing I’ve ever heard…. I immediately entered the conversation, talking, at great length, about what a great nickname “Spaceheater” was. And as everyone was trying to tell me I’d misunderstood, I said something about how I wished “Spaceheater” was my nickname.

Then they decided that it should be my nickname and they’ve called me that ever since. (I think the only thing lamer than the fact that I basically assigned myself this nickname, is the total number of people who actually call me by it, which is something like four.)

I wish there were a better story behind “Spaceheater.” Almost as much as I wish it really qualified as my nickname.

Kate’s roommate Stuart suggested that, when people ask why I’m “Spaceheater,” I reply: “Because I keep the space hot.” You have no idea who much I wish I could pull that off. But you have to back up a statement like that with some iota of truth. I’ve never “kept” a “space” “hot” in my life.

I just got excited by the prospect of having a cool nickname. “Cool” meaning, in this case, “one that isn’t just some variation of your actual name.” Remember Top Gun? All those guys had them.

In retrospect, I forced it. Probably because the only other “cool” nickname I’ve ever had is from eighth-grade Social Studies. One day I fell asleep on my desk and woke up with the writing on my paper clearly transferred onto my forehead (which, even then, was quite large)….

They called me “Stamp Boy” for the rest of the year. And there’s just nothing cool about that.

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