“What did you think you were doing?” My soon-to-be boss squinted from beneath a ball cap. The hat wear, jeans, and sneakers were quite a departure from our formal meeting in his news director’s office where he’d donned a suit and tie.
His face was red, lips pressed into a thin line. He was clearly angry with me, but why? I was in Rochester, New York, looking for a place to live, since he’d recently offered me a contract to be a TV sportscaster.
Here’s where I admit I was also hungover. I had freely imbibed with a friend the night before. We’d attended a minor-league baseball game. Who does that without quaffing a grown-up beverage or two?
“You had no right to announce yourself at the game like that!”
“I didn’t announce myself. I just said hello to some of the other sports reporters.” I blinked, suddenly worried that the job was no longer mine.
He gripped his coffee cup and stared at me like I was the dumbest person on the planet. “Why the hell did you go to the baseball game?”
I fiddled with my mug of tea. “I like baseball,” I said rather lamely.
His eyes snapped onto mine. “And you introduced yourself to other media people telling them your name is Anne Butler.”
I paused, puzzled by his inquiry. “That is my name.” My head pounded. I scrambled to make sense of the mysterious error that caused me to receive an angry, early-morning call, one ordering me be to a diner at 7:00 AM. Surely, I wouldn’t have had that last beer, had I realized I’d be facing my new boss at the crack of dawn.
“I got calls!” He leaned back in the booth and crossed his arms over his chest.
It seems the media folks I’d casually bantered with at the game were flummoxed. A woman sportscaster would be working in Rochester. Shock waves were rippling through town. I was big news.
My boss clasped his hands on the table and leaned toward me “If you want to work here, you’ll have to change your name.” His tone was clipped. “You have 24-hours to get that done.”
“You’ll be anchoring with a woman whose last name is Butler. You two look alike. You’ll confuse our viewers.”
I wanted to argue that I liked my name just fine and would prefer to keep it. But I’d spent a long time trying to land a sporstcasting job. Very few TV stations were willing to take a chance on a woman sportscaster back in the mid-80s.
I nodded. I needed a nap, as well as a new name.
That evening, I rounded up three friends and opened a bottle of wine. “Here are the options. My father’s mother’s name was McCarthy. My mother’s mom’s name was Montgomery.” After we finished the wine, they voted and I became Anne Montgomery.
Changing one’s name is a bit disconcerting. I struggled introducing myself, for a while, but eventually got used to being Anne Montgomery.
Two-and-a-half years later, I was headed for a bigger TV market, Phoenix, Arizona, where I was told there would be no problem if I wanted to return to being Anne Butler. I considered the possibility, but then I thought about my grandmother.
She’d been delighted when I’d taken her maiden name, and, as she got older and more confused, she’d sometimes say, “Tell me again why you took my name?” So, I’d repeat the story and she would always smile.
Then, my grandmother died.
After considering my options, I decided to keep my new name. Montgomery was a family name, after all. My grandmother would have liked that.
Blank Slate Press/Amphorae Publishing Group
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As a Vietnam veteran and former Special Forces sniper descends into the throes of mental illness, he latches onto a lonely pregnant teenager and a group of Pentecostal zealots – the Children of Light – who have been waiting over thirty years in the Arizona desert for Armageddon. When the Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst in a deadly act of sabotage, their lives are thrown into turmoil. As the search for the saboteurs heats up, the authorities uncover more questions than answers. And then the girl vanishes. As the sniper struggles to maintain his sanity, a child is about to be born in the wilderness.