Only a Slight Improvement Over "Spanky"

To all my closest friends,

I truly feel I have been a kind and sympathetic compatriot to you throughout the years, perhaps even giving to a fault: absurdly generous with my Netflix suggestions, spare Safeway coupons, and offers of rides to the mall, even after I’ve passed out literally dozens of handy wallet-sized bus schedules to everyone. You, in turn, have treated me with relative fairness, though on this day I simply can go no further until it is revealed to me why, since 1992, you have all been referring to me jokingly as “The Stigmatic Rhinoceros.” When the term was first used, I took it to be a transient inside gag, but over the years it has become a true psychological burden, and when it was used so liberally during your group wedding toast to me, I must say that both I and my darling new bride Cornea had finally had enough (Cornea’s giggles, I assure you, were caused entirely by her foolhardy intake of Diet Sprite, which I have told her sternly many times skews her personality in a most unfortunate way). I have here taken the liberty of compiling some reasons that this grievous nickname may have come about, and I am asking all of you to simply place a check mark next to the one that has made me suffer in silence for thirteen years as I have become to you not the popular proprietor of one of the Delaware Basin’s leading billiard and bar stool outlets, but instead nothing more than "The Stigmatic Rhinoceros":

* In 1991 I did form a well-received but short-lived choral group which I named The Automatic Hippopotamus. The unusual moniker aside, I see no reason why the group should be mocked, since we received notable acclaim from the Dover Disher for our performance of the score of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” at Highland Methodist Church in November of that same year.

* In 1989 I self-published a volume of my early poems using the binder my mother bought me and called it The Dogmatic Triceratops. Again, making fun of this would seem unnecessarily cruel, as the book, while not a “sales smash,” was sometimes noticeably missing from its place on the shelf at Pete’s Coffee, where Pete himself was kind enough to place it for the enjoyment of his patrons.

* In 1990 I do recall asking several of you what I should adopt as my nickname, since I never had one as a youth, and tentatively suggesting to you that I be referred to henceforth as The Democratic Platypus, since that was the name of the monthly newsletter I wrote, published, and distributed to my fellow politically-aware acquaintances in Mrs. Beemp’s seventh grade French class.

* In 1992 I was attacked in broad daylight by a stigmatic rhinoceros. The rhinoceros, which had managed a brave escape from the Salisbury Zoo after the media converged upon it in pursuit of the story of the beast’s inexplicable tendency to bleed from the extremities on Good Friday, was subdued by police only after he and I engaged in a brutal, unforgettable fourteen-minute mono-a-mono struggle inside the Seneca Mall food court which I shall never, ever forget. I knew that all of you were aware of the incident, but simply assumed, justifiably I feel, that it would drop from your consciousness within a couple of days.

In sum, friends, if you care for me, you will both cease and desist in your use of this regrettable nickname, and also visit me here at the correctional facility more than once in a blue moon so I can experience real human contact once again, because let me tell you, as horrific as you think it might be to live amongst murderers, kidnappers, rapists, and drug dealers, you have no real clue until you get here how stand-offish they can really be.