James:  I had the fortune of running into another Nor’easter, a person, not a hurricane though…Jack Sparrock. We delved into many issues, but first we explored the multiplicities of nomens attached to Jack. People in that corner of the country do indeed tend to have many, many names assigned to them. Some fall out of disuse and others arise to take their place. In the South, and in the far-flung West, a person may get “one” nickname and ride that into the sunset. Bubba, ‘Squite and MisCotton are just a few. A recent study has shown that the number of those names is directly related to the scarcity or abundance of A.M. radio stations in their particular environment. In the desolate West and sparsely populated South “A” station may service relatively few over a wide area. However, in New York City for instance one may traverse a dozen dials just like that. But who came first, the call sign or the call out?

James: Jack lay some aliases on me and how they came about please.

Jack: Glad to, well first let me unpack our family name, the origin of it as I understand it. SPAR ROCK. We come from a long line of hunter-taxidermists. We have since grown out of that business using wildlife. We are more or less now seed splitters and subsequent whole swallowers; we harm no seed before it’s time, hands-free of course. Like the slingers in the Bible we lived off reducing a certain bird community. That was our free-market occupation. Grounded birds such as chickens ended that enterprise-quite rude to throw it down.

James: When I first encountered Jack, I was somewhat confused and had fits reconciling what I saw. Jack is an inveterate newspaper reader and is also over-sized himself. Was it a matter of him being too big or a much smaller paper he was reading? I did not appreciate him altering my realities times two.  The newsprint appeared to be the dimensions of an unfolded home napkin (like the Four Corners in that West) being held ridiculously in those hands of his. It also made me wonder besides looking at it how one could actually read it. Are the dalies being harvested from much younger, smaller trees nowadays or is this Bunyan perusing Hearst?

James: That was interesting Jack, about your surname. Now, give me some delicacies.

Jack:  Sure, well the earliest and most mentioned was Sprock, and, no, not an African American with a bowl-cut in a far-flung galaxy. It had to do with my forays at Rucker Park and me asking for that rock-get it?

James: Of course, Jack, I’m in the lane, not on the sidelines.

Jack:  I was also accused and named again the first male Rockette, rather a “Sprockette” at Radio City. But anyone with any common sense would know that is plainly impossible. The City passed an ordinance prohibiting those well over 6 feet from high kicking it considering the arc of the leg swing well nigh met the first row in my size 14s. Though it wouldn’t reach those season ticket holders the illusion of it obviously could cause untold psychological trauma thinking it could do so. The “Whoosh Statute” as it came to be called went across country to other revues and was also known as the “Windmill” and “Propeller” statutes.

James: Jack, if anyone should ever read this, I would like to add a little myself if that is okay.

Jack:  You know what they say, the appellation never falls far from the tree.

James:  I will just confine it to my given name; the last is too easy, too apparent. I went to Middle School (maybe I should’ve turned back) with a guy called Pasquale “The Storm” (1st given here) Ianewsworthy. You can probably tell I am protecting his Italian American background. Pat, as he was wont to be called gave serious study, rumination before tagging a classmate-he gave him the obvious nickname. His last name was Brangee; he coined “Branchtree”, an arborist’s dream. Then he gave me one which I ensured the DMV has no record of; he based it on a physical attribute of mine. At that young age I had a freckle positioned exactly between my eyebrows; I could’ve been used as a human centering device (pre-laser) on Saturdays in the construction industry. Pat named me “Flicka”, I guess the horse came before the rider in my instance. Fortunately, like MacArthur’s Old Soldier, mine just faded away. It was also more pronounced and painfully polished as Pat deliberately spent weekends at Yankee Stadium; on Monday mornings it came out as “Flickah”. He did this to accentuate the ah moment. Jack, were you headed somewhere?

Jack: Why yes, heading to Central Park for a chess tournament, my dog and I, care to accompany?

James:  Once positioned behind one of the permanent chess tables I couldn’t help but notice Jack’s dog. He had a huge dog necklace with the letters SPRQ; again, one could pronounce it as Sprock. What gives Jack?

Jack: Well James, actually my English Bulldog, Quintus Arrius (Ben Hur fame) here is himself a walking misnomer. My father loved history, especially Roman and meant to name “me” SPQR; which of course stood for: Senatus Populusque Romanus-the full name he meant to use at home when I got out of line. At birth the letters got juxtaposed so he dropped the idea; all well and Jack good. That’s fine with me however, I did not want to be called Speaker, Woofer, Subwoofer or pronounced as an underground short-wave radio station call sign.

James:  There was something odd I noticed when I spoke with Sprock. It appeared to me the outline of a chess castle piece canted at a 45-degree angle over his left eyebrow. He saw me staring and further enlightened me.

Jack: Yes, James, that is a war scar from the New York City Chess Clock riots in ’85. It was discovered that some of the clocks were deliberately tampered with to give some opponents shorter times and those in the know much longer. It was just a matter of time, tick, tick, ticking until chess pieces began flying. I now proudly tell people I am from “Rooklyn”.

James: I had heard that Jack’s reaction, or lack of it was solely responsible for why head gear for chess never took off-I was thankful for that. Next might mean pencil-protection doing the NYT Crossword. Again, I noticed something odd. Jack actually brought a much-oversized chess board overlay to place upon the existing concrete one. I didn’t need to but wanted to hear why.

Jack:  I was in a tournament, a paying one, and my finger and thumb just would not fit in the standard square. I kept knocking down my opponent’s pieces going in or moving out and then would reflexively hit the clock for his turn. However, after several topplings and repeatedly being warned I was ejected. I could’ve used that money to pay my tolls on the I-95 into Ct. Then, the following event I did just the contrary, I “froze” mid-move for fear of continuing the urban planning. Chess Paramedics had to respond, talk me down, sedate me and the piece to extricate us both. Hey, you asked.

James: Just then, all of a sudden, Jack made a chess Rucker move. His pawn took off from mid-board landed on the back side and went Queen. He then proceeded to palm the piece, flew and landed himself in the seat across from another player 8 feet yonder-quite a day. Though in violation of the rules, it was inspiring. And, ever the entrepreneur, post-recovery, Jack then had the wise notion of introducing athletic chess footwear. No Bishoprics, No Play…


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