It was William Shakespeare who posed the question, â€œWhat is in a name?â€ in Romeo and Juliet.Â That was in 1591.Â Here it is four hundred and twenty years later and Iâ€™ve been mulling that one over for the better part of my life.Â Most of you know me as Steve, but would you think that I smelled just as sweet were I Roger?
The tradition of getting a hand-me-down name did not pass me by.Â Were my parents extending a legacy or simply lazy?Â Either way, for better or worse, I am RogerÂ Stephen Williams, II.Â My parents just called me Stephen.Â Itâ€™s simple and direct.Â Nothing too objectionable rhymes with it.Â Stephen isnâ€™t associated with black marks in history.Â Stephen isnâ€™t the name of a superhero, a super villain or even a famous pet.Â As a parent now, I know the value of finding an uncomplicated, unfettered name for your child.Â But as a kid in the seventies, it must have seemed uninspired to me.
Roger is the name my father uses.Â Even as a small boy, I was less a vision of budding, jacked up testosterone and more of an introspective and inquisitive sort.Â Not in a weird paste eating kind of way, but such that I felt a bitâ€¦apart.Â I liked to draw and figure out how things went together.Â Words, colors, and sounds all had a pattern that I could whittle the day away thinking about.Â I know, shocking revelation.Â Like most boys, I looked up to my father.Â I noticed that I wasnâ€™t alone.Â Have you met Roger Williams, the original?Â Heâ€™s charismatic, confident and just has such a welcoming aura. People go ga-ga over him.Â There was me, there was him.Â How did we fit together?Â I couldnâ€™t figure that one out.Â In kindergarten I made the bold transition to Roger, and I did this on my own.Â Of course, it was a name that I could claim legitimately, which helped me decide on it.Â Oh, it also didnâ€™t hurt that I was also a huge fan of the Buck Rogers comics.Â Bonus!
By the time I started fourth grade, I decided to end my tenure as Roger.Â I split the difference between Stephen and Roger, settling on Steve.Â I got to that age where I started itching to be independent.Â At nine, I wanted to be my own man.Â I couldnâ€™t drive a car, get an anchor tattoo or move into my own sweet bachelor pad, so it was going to have to start with the name.
As a college student at Mercer University, I took my first real art class.Â Growing up in the south, I felt like there was a collective frown for grown boys indulging in creative endeavors.Â It was really liberating and exciting to open this door.Â My first assignment was to assemble a shadow box that made a statement about me.Â I jumped into it whole hog and really went for it.Â On the day it was due, I had to get help transporting it from my dorm across the middle of the campus to the Arts building.Â I painstakingly built the story of me inside of a carved up refrigerator box.Â The rest of the class?Â Those hacks had tiny, petite boxes to tell their story.Â What I showed up with was cumbersome andâ€¦different from everyone elseâ€™s.Â And I loved it.Â I felt so proud that my statement was huge.Â In that one day, I figured out what I was good at and felt passionate about.
Now, as for Steve?Â Feeling comfortable with that didnâ€™t come so quickly or easily.Â Once I figured out that I could make my art my living, I started getting itchy again.Â I had found my independence and my artistic voice.Â Maybe I needed a name that was more dynamic.Â Something with panache.Â My dad called me Buck, a common southern nickname for juniors.Â And it associated nicely with Buck Rogers.Â But it wasnâ€™t really for public consumption.Â Then I got the gift of calm.Â I figured out that I had an amazing life, warts and all.Â Steve Williams is who I already was.Â It isnâ€™t exotic or lyrical.Â Thereâ€™s no gimmick in the name.Â It just is.Â Steve Williams is like a moniker from the Witness Relocation Program.Â The possibilities for Steve are wide open.Â Plus, itâ€™s easy to spell and nothing too objectionable rhymes with it.