I used to be a real person with a real name. My parents chose my first name. My last name is the same as my father's. Life was conventional and simple.
Then I started a blog.
I can't remember why I chose the name Tillerman for my blogging pseudonym, or even why I chose to use a pseudonym at all. I guess I had some vague idea that my real identity would remain a secret to my readers, especially to my fellow sailors. How wrong I was.
Of course, when I started writing the blog hardly anybody read it and many more people knew me by real name than as Tillerman. Slowly a few of my sailing friends discovered the blog and even more slowly a few of them worked out that I was also this Tillerman character who was writing that weird blog they had been reading.
Now the process seems to be working in reverse. I think it's probably true by now that there are more people in the sailing world who are familiar with Tillerman's blog than who actually know the real me. So now it's not uncommon for me to be meeting complete strangers who already "know" me through my blog. Such was the case at the last two regattas I attended.
At the Lipton Cup Regatta a few weeks ago, one of the other sailors introduced me to the ringer who eventually won the last race and told him that I was that guy Tillerman who writes the blog. The ringer said he enjoyed the blog, especially the post about Seven Reasons to Hate Laser Sailors, and that he had been surprised to discover that I had actually written that one five years ago. I suppose he was saying that I used to write good stuff on this blog. I guess that was a back-handed compliment?
After sailing at Hyannis on Friday I hung out at the yacht club with some of the other sailors I knew and had a few beers and started dropping hints about wanting to go out for dinner and asking whether anybody had got any idea where to go. Eventually a group of five of us decided to dine together in beautiful downtown Hyannis, two of the group being friends of friends and previously unknown to me. One of the two strangers immediately realized I was the writer of this blog and said he was a regular reader. His much younger companion clearly had no idea what he was talking about. (I have a theory that hardly anybody under 30 reads blogs. They are so 2004. All the cool kids have moved way beyond such old-fashioned stuff as blogs.)
Anyway, at the end of the evening my reader turned to his young friend and said, "You ought to check out his blog. He really is funny on his blog." I think he was trying to say that I'm not really such a boring old fart as I seemed to be at dinner. I guess it was a back-handed compliment?
After the last race on Sunday (did I mention I finished fourth in that race?) I sailed back to the club alongside one of the young guys who was in the top three, one of the best sailors on the local circuit. I knew who he was but he didn't know me. We were chatting away about the regatta and eventually he asked me my name. Then I asked if his Dad was at the regatta (knowing that his father was a reader of this blog.) Then he made the connection. "Are you the Tillerman?" he asked. (Well actually no. I am not the Tillerman, just Tillerman. Sting is Sting, not the Sting.) But I didn't correct him, just answered in the affirmative. "Oh, my Dad is always asking about you," he said. I think he was trying to say that my blog is quite popular with older sailors. I guess it was a back-handed compliment?
So that's me. I used to write good stuff. I'm funnier on the blog than I am in real life. Old people like my blog.
What's your favorite back-handed compliment?