The Pseudonym Conundrum And All The King’s Men

I’m going to go ahead and assume that most people know that my real name isn’t Panama Dontavious Jackson. On the off chance that this is news…

Palindrome swag.

Palindrome swag.


Anyway, while my name is my name, my “name” also isn’t my name. Dig? This has been the case in my life for quite some time. In high school, I had a nickname. I was Phife, though we spelled it Phyffe. I was short and one of

my boys yelled PHIFE across the room one day in English class while attempting to wake me up and a nickname was born. Apparently he’d already mulled the idea of giving me that nickname and time + opportunity


Well, I was just “Sexy” in college and then after a wayward walk through some bushes, I became Panama Jackson. Point is, I’ve had nicknames for a while. In DC, where I work, sleep, eat, and entertain I’ve been “Panama” for at least 8 years. Point is, my name is a working, functional outside of the Internets nickname. I trade my name for value at this point. F*ck with me you know I got it. Dig?

What this means it that more often than not, seeing as I have a working, monetized pseudonym, I introduce myself as “Panama”. Many people introduce me as “Panama” and most folks either don’t know or don’t remember my real name. This presents very few issues…until it does.

See there is a populace who either thinks I’m a douche or an idiot when I introduce myself as such. See, for me its just easier since 9/10 I’m at an event because of things I’ve done related to the name Panama. But folks are always like, “is that your real name?” And its just rude to lie to people, so I just say “no, but I write under this name and that’s why I’m here today so, thanks for these dry crackers and cheese.”

But it always leads directly to, “so what’s your real name?”


Now…sometimes I answer and sometimes I say “you won’t remember, its not important” but people seem to be really interested in knowing real names. I dont know if this is because I’m not a rapper or because people really hate talking to pseudonyms. They’d rather call you by your real name unless your a celebrity. I mean, how many folks know Jamie Foxx’s real name is Eric Bishop? But nobody is calling him Eric. Hell, half the entertainers you come across are using some variant of their name, if they’re using a variant at all.

Oh, and by populace, I mean women and white people. Women ALWAYS want to know my real name. In fact, they are the most persistent. And as soon as I say my real name, they then refuse to refer to me by Panama. Which is fine, except, chances are we met because of the whole “Panama” thing. In fact, folks go OUT of their way to call me my real name upon learning it. I can’t figure out why this is for the life of me. I suppose its because I’m not famous and I’m not 13 so the idea that nicknames are childish, even ones that have become a job.

Interestingly, guys don’t seem to care at all. I’ve only had a few men ask me if Panama was my real name and that was ONLY once they got to know me down the line. Maybe we’re all so used to calling ninjas named Dwayne Carter “Lil Wayne” and people named Clifford Harris “T.I” that nicknames don’t mean much to us. Or perhaps its just a bit…um…special…to be that enthusiastically interested in another man’s anything.

So maybe, for women its the intimacy involved. This idea that if I know your name, I’ve got a leg up on other people, even if I never see or speak to you again. It’s the knowing…and since women do tend to be more interested in details that makes sense. But…I live and work in a Twitter and blog world where I don’t know half the folks outside of their handles. If you tell me your name is LickMeBigDaddy, I may call you LMBD, but your real name is kind of not that important to me unless we intend to take it a step further…and only because I can’t tell my momma that I’m dating a woman named LickMeBigDaddy.

So the point of all this is this: am I douche for introducing myself to people as Panama even if I know they’re gonna want to know the real name and it’s gonna become a thing? Do you have a problem speaking to a person using “not their real name?” Do you have this issue? Are you a nicknamer? Do people always want to know your real name?

Tell your story. Do you care to know a person’s real name or not (assuming it aint in a professional setting like at a law firm and you’re trying to get me out of a sexual harassment charge from the time I humped a pole near a playground. Which totally never happened.)

How do you feel about pseudonyms?