I’m the only person in the world with my name. Well, that is, unless there’s another guy out there who has somehow eluded Google's web crawlers. I was named after my grandfather on my dad’s side. As far as I know, he’s the only other Lyle McKeany to ever exist.
Even the name Lyle is a somewhat weird first name. Its popularity in the US peaked in the 1920s—if you can call an average of a smidge over 1K newborns per year across an entire decade a peak. Coincidentally, it has since seen a bit of an uptick 100 years later in the 2020s.
Having a unique name is great, for the most part. It suits me. And as an early adopter of tech products, it means I can always snag the @lylemckeany username, or if I’m early enough, even the coveted @lyle. I can’t imagine being just another John Smith, or whatever. Nothing against any John Smiths reading this—I’m sure you have your own special relationship with your name and may even quite like blending in with the masses.
Sure, I’m a bit thrown off when I hear a character in a movie or show with my name, although they’re rarely main characters—they’re usually like the Lyle who works at the Los Pollos Hermanos restaurant in Better Call Saul. For a while, there was the recurring SNL character played by Dana Carvey, right in the heart of my high school years, named Lyle, the Effeminate Heterosexual. I had to endure some serious crap from my friends for that one.
There are some famous Lyle’s, too. I can’t tell you how many times I’ll mention my name when I first meet someone and they’ll say, “Oh, like Lyle Lovett?” To which I reply, “Yeah, but at least I don’t look like him.” Granted, he was married to Julia Roberts at one point, so who the hell do I think I am? He’s also a great songwriter who’s been nominated for 17 Grammys and has won 4 of them. Hmm, maybe I should stop saying that.
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I know most people feel like they’re the main character in their own little movie of their life, but I’ve always had this feeling that I’m supposed to be a unique person or famous in some way. And I often wonder how much of that is due to my distinctive name.
Many years ago, when I was in my band, I’d have this daydream about my high school reunion. I’d picture myself rolling up in a limo, paparazzi flashing pictures as I step out onto the curb, the girls who mostly ignored me in high school whispering to each other and turning away coyly when I catch their eyes. Inside the gymnasium, I regale an audience of admirers with my tales from the road while the former jocks wallow in the wings and soothe their injured egos with another helping from the spiked punch bowl.
But none of that happened.
And also, I’ve actually never been invited to a high school reunion—a fact that’s surprising given how I’m probably one of the easiest people in my class to find online. Even my email is my first name dot last name at gmail dot com. I mean, I wasn’t exactly popular in high school, but I wasn’t unpopular either.
Despite my singular name, I still find it difficult to stick out from the crowd, which goes to show how tough it is to do so. Yet I have a history of trying, from my time in a major label band to writing this very newsletter. You’d think I could “make a name for myself” much easier with an unusual name. It’s confusing to reconcile having what seems like an easily recognizable name with feeling like I’m ignored a fair amount of the time. In my darkest moments, the confusion translates into a deeper feeling of being all alone in this universe because I’m literally the only one of me in existence.
I guess I still have time to become more well-known. And if I want people to know about me, I have to actually let them know about me. I suppose that’s part of what this newsletter is about for me—a way to be noticed and appreciated more. Or maybe it’s just an elaborate form of attention-seeking. Here I am interrupting your life to tell you about mine so I feel more special. How selfish is that?
If I ever find another Lyle McKeany, I’ll ask him.
This piece was inspired by this one from Scott Hines who writes The Action Cookbook Newsletter, which you should totally check out:
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This reminds me of a documentary series I wanted to make called "The Other". Your episode would be "The Other Lyle McKeany" where I'd find someone with your same name, we'd track them down and you two would meet, then interview each other about your lives and learn about how things are in Other Lyle McKeany's life.
My episode would feature a dentist in Pennsylvania.
This idea was inspired when I friended a colleague, ND, on Facebook but the wrong one, first. The Other ND was also a filmmaker. I didn't know about the mistake until the Other ND won a pretty prestigious animation award and I congratulated ND, much to his confusion. I thought it would have been great for the two of them to meet.
Excellent stuff. This makes me want to try the same type of piece. Mine would probably be about how nobody realises my name is popular, but they constantly ask me if I’m related to so and so with the same name. Huh.