Columns, Opinion

KAZI: A matter of O’ Pinion

Last week, I graciously gave up my Monday spot to fellow columnist Randy Pinion, one of the many victims of digitization’s endless march, and fashion. Or maybe not. I don’t know how the guy dresses. I’ve never seen him. I haven’t seen his picture. But I’ve been obsessed with him. Right now, I’m minimizing Microsoft Word to add him on Facebook. (Request sent. Is this the start of a buddy movie?) And the reason is not because I have a gay crush on this man who resembles a ram or perhaps a slave in a Roman fresco. I just can’t help imagining the daily life of Randy Pinion as an Irishman, or Randy O’ Pinion.

Think about it. There could have been a 1940s radio sitcom about a man with such a name. Randy O’ Pinion, meeting a lady. ‘Hello, Miss,’ he would say. ‘I’m Randy.’ Horrified, Betsy Puccini would slap him. Her great-aunt would attack him with a parasol. He’d go into a bar to sink his sorrows. But this is a proper gentleman’s bar. You’re not allowed to swear. ‘No randy opinions!’ the door would admonish. He would slink off.

But hark! He would be discovered by Young & Rubicam. George Gribbin, greatest copywriter ever to live, would write Arrow shirt advertisements about him. ‘Randy Cigarettes: super quiet, doctor recommended. Feel . . . Randy!’ He would team up with Jean-Jacques Perrey to produce an album of future sounds, guest star in ‘The Twilight Zone’s’ famous episode ‘It’s a Randy Life’ as Bill Mumy’s father. Randy O’ Pinion, drum-battling Buddy Rich, singing Coca Cola from hilltops, endorsing Richard Nixon.

A year ago, I didn’t know that there was a Pinion family in Tennessee. Three weeks ago, my editor Neal asked me if I minded giving my space to the Friday columnist Randy. Six months ago, I was unaware that the Pinion family not only existed but had a fine young son who is a student at the university I failed to graduate from. A week ago, I was chuckling about Moe Szyslak asking for a Randy O’ Pinion and Homer giving it to him. Yesterday, I didn’t know that Randy, scion of the Pinions, descended from a long line of sensitive cavemen, was going to graduate in May 2009 and considered $185,000 well spent on Boston University. Today, I’ve already spent 400-plus words talking about him. A word for each pound I’d have to shed to get to his size.

You see what’s happening though? Fate is moving me and Randy closer together. Any day now we’ll accidentally bump into each other and think nothing of it. I will say ‘Sorry,’ he’ll say ‘Excuse moi.’ Our eyes will meet. Then our tongues. Soon we will become the Damon and Pythias of BU, arms interlocked in unbreakable friendship. We will become the founders of a buddy economy where hugs are the mode of exchange. There will be 185 hugs well spent!

This is the point where you’re probably saying to yourself ‘Hah, a guy called Arafat has no right to make fun of good ol’ Randy!’ Especially if you’re Randy Pinion or a fan of small gears or birds’ flight feathers (also called pinions). I quite agree. Here’s the shame that I kept secret for years. This is why the loves of my life (Esha Aurora, Jarett Kobek) refuse to marry me: my full name isn’t even Arafat Kazi, it’s Kazi Khaled Arafat Anurag Huda. I mean seriously, call a rose that and it stinks! I can’t imagine Creed renaming ‘Green Irish Tweed’ to anything close to that. I don’t have initials, I have a whole alphabet!

My father, muckraking swashbuckler (or swashbuckling muckraker, depending on your point of view) of a long line of dung-merchant princes from Gadaipur, talks about the honor of the House of Kazi. When the East India Company needed dung for their spice-farms and for dung-based cannonballs to fight against Tipu Sultan, my traitorous forefathers were the preferred dung suppliers of choice. Robert Clive himself used a Kazi-supplied dung cake to insult his subaltern. To shorten my name is to spit on the memory of my illustrious ancestors. But I say: my ancestors had spittoons. I only have their memory.

So you see, I know what it’s like. Randy Pinion, Arafat Kazi, even that dude Galen Mook, I know how he feels, especially after Lord of the Rings. (I don’t know him either.) We are three men in a boat. Not a modern-day version of Jerome, Wingrave and Hentschel goin’ down the Thames, nor a band of brothers tied together by narcissism and logophilia. Rather a slowly sinking raft of shame where the first thing that people learn about us, our labels, our brands, is a joke.

I guess it could always be worse. But that’s just my O’ Pinion.

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