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What's in a Name?

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Coach Murray nudged Johnson. “Go talk to that Knight kid. I liked what I saw.”

The kid in question had a scraggly smattering of facial hair and shaggy medium brown hair best described as “six months after a buzz cut”. He sat at a table in the wood-paneled dining hall of Andover, in an animated discussion with someone with blue hair at a table filled with people who seemed to be making their absolute best effort to say “fuck you” to social norms while managing to look almost identical to each other.

Johnson sighed. “You think now’s the time?”

“Sure. Find out his name—everything I see just lists him as B. Knight,” Murray said.

“Probably Bradley or Bartholomew or something equally pretentious,” Johnson said under his breath to the coach, but he nabbed an apple from the lunch line, slipped a dollar to the lunch lady, and dragged a chair over to the kid’s table.

He flipped the chair around and straddled it backwards, saying, “So you looked pretty good on the ice, Knight.”

The person with blue hair cocked their head at him and said, “And you are?”

“John Johnson, Samwell University Hockey team. You?”

“Like he needs more of those douchebags in his life,” they said, dismissing him.

“Knock it off, bro,” Knight said. “If I do pick Samwell, I might need the scholarship.”

“Dude, your folks are loaded.”

“Not if the SEC gets its way, and the grandparents want me at Harvard.” Knight turned to Johnson and said, “Thanks, and that’s T. They are my noble defender.”

“You all go by initials?” Johnson asked. “What’s the B. for, anyway?”

Knight mumbled something.

“Sorry?” Johnson said.

“Brian,” Knight said, looking vaguely apprehensive.

“Brain, you mean,” said a pimply kid in a t-shirt from the table behind them.

Knight rolled his eyes.

“They call you Brainy on the ice?” Johnson asked.

“Shit-for-brains is more like it,” said a tall white guy in a basketball uniform, passing by.

“Hey, he is the actual shit,” T said, standing up. “Just because you are so stuck in your cis-centric heteronormative masculine bullshit that you can’t even take a piss without saying ‘No homo’, doesn’t mean it’s okay to be a dick to someone who actually gives a shit about understanding his own privilege and isn’t ashamed to be intelligent.”

Knight buried his head in his arms. He mumbled in the direction of the table, “T... it’s okay...”

The basketball player just rolled his eyes and moved on with a muttered, “Whatever.”

“Dude, you should own that,” Johnson said. “They call you shit-for-brains, you know you’re the shit, you be the shit. You’d get along fine at Samwell. Our women’s studies program is da bomb, if you really want to ...examine your privilege.”

Knight sat up straighter and looked at him.

“Own it. Like, what, “I’m-the-shit Knight?”

Johnson laughed. “How about ‘Shitty’ Knight? Hey, are you one of those Knights?”

“Distantly related. I start going by ‘Shitty’, the ‘rents are going to flip theirs.”

“And you picked the one sport without a sneaker? I’d think the parents flipping their shit would be a feature, not a bug.” Johnson raised an eyebrow. “I know I’m only here as a plot device, but this is making me eternally grateful that I will literally never have to be a high school student ever again.”

“Oh, Nike makes skates too,” Knight said absently. “Shitty, huh?”

T leaned over, “Would you rather them holler ‘Shitty’ or ‘Brainy’ at you when you get to college?”

Knight grinned. “No contest.”

“Keep working on that flow, kid,” Johnson said. “See you on the ice?”

Shitty looked bemused. “Yeah. I think so.”

 

“So, what’s the B stand for?” Coach Murray asked, when Johnson returns.

“We’ll call him ‘Shitty’ on the ice, Coach.” Johnson said.

“There some story there?”

"That’s really all you need to know.” Johnson grinned.