I am frequently asked why I carry around the word “taco” in many of my usernames. The URL of this blog, for example, is tacostanley.wordpress.com. My Yahoo Messenger (remember those days?) name is ptaco.
First, any username is an artifact of our login world. Before the internet happened, we didn’t have usernames. We had account numbers. The closest we came to anonymous names was our CB handles. I know, I’m seriously dating myself here. My CB handle was Steamer, which came from the only nickname I could ever come up with in my childhood, Stanley Steamer. In the CB days, you rarely had to worry about someone else having your handle, as the active community was limited by the 10-20 mile range of the transmitters. However, once the internet came into our lives a couple of decades later, you now had to start choosing usernames for yourself and a small, little problem that crept up over time: they have to be unique across a much larger community.
That wasn’t a problem with the first BBSs (Bulletin Board Services), where the likelihood of another Paul Stanley or even pstanley was remote. Likewise, email was thrust upon most of us first at our companies and the small pool of employees made unique usernames easy.
Then came AOL. And Earthlink. Their scale of millions of users created the need for all of us to choose a username that would be unique across these and future services, and this is the reason for creating my two online identities ptaco and pstanley13 that, to this day, are usually available when I sign up for a new service.
pstanley13 came from my favorite sports jersey number of my youth. Choosing 13 in sports was in part thumbing my nose at superstition and in part knowing that no one else would choose it. The latter reason is also prevalent in username choices, so that is why I tacked it on to the end of pstanley, the choice of all the Paul Stanleys, Peter Stanleys, Patrick Stanleys, and Phillip Stanleys out there.
Taco, however, is another story. And, of course, the best story because it involves a girl. I was fairly shy in my high school days, so my dating/girlfriend experiences were primarily driven by attention initiated by the girls. In my sophomore year at Grissom High School, there happened to be a girl in my Spanish class that was cute, smart, and seemingly attracted to this shy boy who sat in front of her. She starting calling me Taco during the first day of class and it sort of stuck. The teacher called me Pablo, but everyone else, especially the cute blonde instigator, always called me Taco. The original reason for Taco is lost in the cobwebs of time and adolescent hormonal confusion, but it has stuck with me ever since. Somedays, I think of looking her up and thanking her, but realize the time and effort required to remember her name and track her down will never be a high enough priority. Maybe the power of the internet and this blog post will bring me an answer.
So what’s the story behind your username(s)?