As some eagle-eyed blog readers may have noticed, last month I celebrated my 26th birthday and last week I finally accepted my new age by having drinks with a cross-section of the friends I’ve collected like trading cards over the past few decades (a social ‘greatest hits’ package for lack of a better term). Though it’s not surprising given my over analytical, introspective personality, I definitely enjoy planning my birthday gatherings more than I do attending them and most definitely spend a lot more time replaying the evening’s happenings in my subconscious than I do bonding with my bros. And while last week’s social greatest hits package seemed to flow between social circles tracks quite naturally, I can still always pinpoint when exactly I met any one of my friends not so much because of they way they act, but because of what they call me (think of last week like one of those awkward, all inclusion box sets that tries to compile Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship, Hot Tuna and Starship tracks on a single disc).
You see, for better of worse, the older I’ve gotten, the less formal my name has actually become. I entered this world in July of 1981 named Michael Cary Greenhaus and, sometime before Kindergarten, slimmed my name down to, simply, Michael (if only because seven letters was already a lot for me to spell back then). After a brief detour in a Lord of the Flies like environment for learning disabled adolescents (like me) I spent my high-school years exploring my A Separate Peace soul in prep-school as a mentally fitter, more cerebral, though no less neurotic, Mike Greenhaus. For a while I figured I’d eventually pickup my proper name along with button-up shirts and adult dietary habits, only to find myself trust into an upstate, hippie utopia where I was quickly rebranded Mikey Greenhaus. Living on my own allowed Mikey Greenhaus to do things Mike Greenhaus never did like stay up until 4 AM every night of the work week, while having a metabolism of a 20 year old allowed me to exclusively eat spaghetti-marinara, tuna and PB & J for four years without making it look like Mikey Greenhaus swallowed Mike Greenhaus. Perhaps it was some sort of rebirth or maybe it was just a bad prank someone (cough Sarah Boxer) pulled on me, but the name seemed to stick.
After college I started working at Relix, one of the many offices where AIM has replaced the age old art of screaming over one’s cubical walls as the preferred means of direct communication, and someone took a few letters from my screen name to create Greeny. While I learned a lot about the world during those hazy early morning commutates from my parents’ house into the big/bad city and I’m not particularly fond of that period in my life and, as my “college” and “professional” social circles began to mesh, I seemed to revert back to Mikey (the symbolic moment being at JazzFest 2005 when I picked up a laminate with the name Mikey Greenhaus on it at Will Call---thanks to the Brothers Peck).
Now, much like the miniature Mickey Mouse figurines Michael Cary obsessively collected as a child, while Michael Cary, Michael, Mike, Mikey and Greeny are all built out of the same wax molding, there are slight differences in both their personality and style (which, no doubt, reflect the ‘times’ as much as they do each character’s age). For instance, the foul mouthed Mikey Greenhaus would certainly say things that the clean, tongued Michael Greenhaus wouldn’t, though both have the same bad haircut and probably get way more excited about the chocolate milk than anyone should. Which originally led my to believe that one day I’d wake up to find myself with some new, horrific, but endearing, nickname which would reflect the increasingly thinning part in my bowl cut. And, in all honesty, over the past few I’ve noticed enough tangible changes in both my confidence and personality to make me wonder if this fall it would be time
yet another name switch. I mean while my walk still resembles more of a disheveled bounce than a stately swagger, I did finally discover button-down shirts and slowly sushi and Seagram’s have replaced tuna and chocolate milk in my daily diet. Since I’m down with the indie-rock I thought about turning my name into a preposition and adding a ‘The’ before Mike/Greenhaus Effect or maybe a random letter to my MySpace handle to create something similar to what ?uestlove or my friend Ian (sorry ION) did. I mean clearly M!@chael is a lot less afraid to air out his dirty laundry online than even Mike Greeenhaus was, if only because he is now old enough to legally download other people’s, um, laundry.
But, as my birthday evening trucked on and my memories became a bit more blurry I began to realize something: I think I am finally at the age where I’ve stopped tracking my life in academic quarters and Michael/Mike/Mikey and Greeny have blurred into, well, just me. It’s definitely an interesting realization and one I think is important to make as my life has taken on some sort of permanence at Relix in New York with the people I’ve chosen to surround myself with (feel free to use the Woody Allen quote You're like New York City — an island to yourself” to describe that self-indulgent graph). Now if only Michael Cary could tell Mikey to stop making the same mistakes he did almost three decades ago…
The Greenhaus Effect(.com): Can you tell I'm in Brooklyn in this pic?