Monday, July 14, 2014

What's in a name...

Let me begin by acknowledging the fact that this is called wonderllama and so is my photobucket account.

When I went to University in 1992 I needed to come up with a username for my accounts about the place.

Some of them were my student id, others my name, but some required another name.

Being the skinny 17 year old dork that I was (as opposed to the slightly less skinny 40 year old dork that I am now), I thought for ages as to what user name was going to be suitable for me and the image I projected. Star Wars was out, it was before the resurgence of 1994 and I struggled.

Then I saw that the University had a Monty Python Appreciation Society, amusingly called FOUL - Friends of Unnatural Llamas.

Llamas....that was it. I was both a Monty Python fan AND an animal lover.

Even the year before I'd referenced llamas in one of my English projects for VCE, it all made sense.

llama - taken.


I thought about a specific llama...what was that one from Holy Grail......Ralph the Wonder Llama.

Yes, that's it! 

wonderllama - Available


And so began my 22 year obsession with all things llama.

Hotmail, bank accounts, this list went on, right up until Facebook came along.
Hmmm....people might find me here if I use my REAL name, so Wonder Llama it was.

I don't want to revisit people from my past. 
The ones I do wish to speak to are the ones I still speak to, so being a llama on the world's most popular social media site made perfect sense to me.

But recently I turned 40.
People sang happy birthday to me as llama, not Michael.
Others post photos of llamas on my page and say "look it's you".
There are any number of ways people seem to be referencing llamas and connecting me to them.

I get why they are doing it, but I recently started to feel that I am seen as a bit of a joke.

Sure, I'm a funny guy and I get that, I like to make people laugh and have fun. I'm also the first person to take the piss out of myself and have no problem with others doing it because I know they mean well and it's a way of expressing their comfort or familiarity with me. 

I really do get all that.

But nobody from my past is trying to contact me.
The friends I have, some of them seem to only KNOW me as wonderllama.
On anonymous places such as twitter I get it, I don't want my real name retweeted around the place.

And as for real life and facebook where I see and talk to my actual friends?

On the radio yesterday they were discussing the use of 'mate' and how people call everyone mate, as opposed to their ACTUAL mates.

I'm Michael, not llama.


  1. Isn't it funny how these things work. I was almost the only child in my family, both among my siblings and extended family, that wasn't called by a shortened version of my name. During school, primary, secondary, graduate and post graduate I retained the full version of my first name, still no nickname. I saw people around me being called by some endearing moniker or shortening of their name and I was really fucking jealous (I assume I can swear here hmmm?). It wasn't until I was working to pay my way through Uni and my name was too long to shout across a crowded function room that it was shortened to one syllable.

    It's odd, but this always struck me as disheartening - did people not like me enough to joke around with me, shorten my name, call me mate?

    Coming from someone who knows - you are not considered as 'a bit of a joke' among your friends (certainly not those I discussed this at length with behind your back - I jest, of course). You are one of the smartest guys I know. You also happen to be pretty funny - a pretty good combination if you ask me.

    I understand insecurity, I walk around every day with it perched upon my shoulder. Please know that WL is used lovingly, as a term of endearment, not as a joke. There is a fair chance I will still be sending through pictures of llamas in various funny poses to you occasionally, if only because it's harder to find pictures of a Michael with a monocle looking distinguished in the library - it means I am thinking of you in a particular moment and am comfortable enough with you to joke around.

    Stay cool Michael, stay cool.

  2. Lovely bit of writing. I don't look at you as a joke. :-( I look at you as a close friend. xxxx

  3. Funny, but I never thought of you as a joke, but rather as somebody comfortable enough with yourself to use a moniker like WL. And those pics of the llamas are so cute, a little like you can be :-)

    I also never had a nickname throughout my childhood, or indeed my life. I often wished for one, but I think I was always far too serious a person for anybody to think of a nickname that would suit me. You got to choose your own, which is probably the best of both worlds.

    Well said, either way, Michael.

  4. " I recently started to feel that I am seen as a bit of a joke" - you've always made me laugh, but not at you, if that makes sense.

    - Mike.

  5. Also, I chose 'Evil Mike' as my online name, but I think it suits :-)

    - Mike.