I’ve thought about buying a bowling shirt for years, and I recently gave in and bought one. (From bowlingshirt.com, not to be confused with bowlingshirts.com.) When ordering it, I realized that it would not be complete without a name stitched in the left chest area. This raised (not begged) the question, how do you choose the right bowling shirt name?
Unlike choosing a drag queen name, where the prevailing guidance is name of first pet + mother’s maiden name (cited here among other places, though I cannot find an authoritative source), there is scarce guidance on choosing a bowling shirt name, so I was on my own. Using my actual name was of course out of the question. I felt that the name had to be contemporary with the golden age of bowling, i.e. adults in post-World War II America, which ruled out names like Tyler and Madison. Using the name of an famous bowler, e.g. Earl or Dick, would suggest that I genuinely aspire to bowling greatness and therefore seem pathetic. Picking a random working-class nickname like "Bud" would be condescending.
If there’s anything important in choosing a name for a faux bowling shirt, it’s authenticity. And so it was with a flash of clarity that I settled on a name: "Irv", the name my father would have used had he ever owned his own bowling shirt. Not that I ever saw my father bowl, and in fact few people who knew him would have called him by that name, but I knew immediately that this name met all of the requirements and was a suitable homage to my father. Plus, some day I may get the chance to pass the shirt along to his grandson, in whose memory he is named, and in doing so the shirt will, like Pinocchio, acquire the authenticity it so desperately craves and deserves.