by: Lee Pitts

There are many pros and cons of being me. The pros are I have a wonderful wife and a wonderful life, while my biggest cons are a sickly body and a terrible name.

A person's name is like a Knight's crest, a blue blood's coat of arms and the convention badge you wear that says, "Hello, my name is." While you may be proud of your name and write it with a big fat Sharpie marker, I write mine small and in fine point. You see, Lee is not my real name. It's bad enough but my real name is Leland. There, I've said it. Now the whole world knows my darkest secret. (I never could keep a secret.) The only people who've ever called me Leland were a couple aunts and my mom when she was really mad at me and called me all three of my bad names, as in, "Leland Warren Pitts, did you spill chocolate milk all over that cloth rocking chair I just finished upholstering?"

That's another story, but you see my problem. All three of my names are awful- first, middle and last. Does it get any worse than Pitts? As in, when someone in conversation refers to something bad they say, "It's the pits. Oh, I'm sorry, I forgot, that's your name isn't it?" And then they chuckle. Always with the chuckle. Ha, ha, ha. If I had a dollar for every time someone has said that to me I could afford to go into witness protection and adopt an entirely new identity AND A NEW NAME. I'd pick something simple like Tom Smith. Or Joe Williams. I see myself as a Tom or a Joe.

I apologize to reputable firms like Leland Red Angus who have great cattle and I'm sure they are proud of their name brand. In my defense, I think Leland sounds better as a last name than it does a first. I also apologize to Pitts Trailers of Pittsview, Alabama. Someone sent me one of their ads and I wonder if Pittsview is in reference to the shapely lass in the ad who is standing with her derrierre to the camera along with their motto, "Your ahead with a Pitts behind."

I wouldn't know about that.

There is also a trailer company in Spokane Valley, Washington, by the name of Leland Trailers. What is it with trailer companies and my name?

Your name is the first clue people have to judge you by and we form an opinion of someone based on their name alone. When you think of great names like John, Mike, Paul, Max, Tom and Mark, you tend to think nice thoughts about that person. Tell, me, what's the first thought you have when you hear the name Leland? It's always sounded a bit stuffy to me, like Reginald or Steph-on. Upon hearing my name people probably think I'm a snobbish, railroading robber baron from the last century. I am anything but. I assure you I'm the most humblest of humans. (Oops, there I go bragging again.)

I often wonder if my parents were sober when they named me. They named me Leland and gave my brother the best name of all time: John. A good Biblical name. You hear it and immediately think that person is wholesome, trustworthy and worth knowing. By the way, although I'm not Catholic I'd like to congratulate the Catholic Church on the great job they've done in naming their Popes. The most popular Pope name of all time is John with 21. There have been 17 Benedicts and 16 Gregory's. I love the name Greg but don't really care for Gregory. I wonder, if any of the Pope Gregorys hated their name and just went by Pope Greg? Or Pope Ben?

Believe it or not, another one of the top ten Pope names is Innocent. Now there's a great moniker. Innocent Pitts rolls off the tongue quite nicely, don't you think? You naturally think quite highly of someone with that name. There have been 13 Pope Innocents, although none in recent history, which is a sad commentary about the times we live in.

Wouldn't you love to introduce yourself to someone and say, "Hi, I'm Innocent."

How does a person respond? "Well, we'll see about that." Or, "I suppose you could be, at least until you're proven Guilty."

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