“That website says you’re one of the meanest girls out there.”

I had to laugh at that comment, which was made to me by the sweet man at the gym—a guy I originally started chatting with after seeing him wear a shirt with a big Decatur Memorial Hospital logo on the back. You see, DMH is the hospital where I was born in Illinois some 30-ish years ago. When you’re living in Southwest Missouri and you see a shirt from “home,” which is 5 1/2 hours away, you have to talk to him. Right? Turns out, he retired after working with the railroad for years back in Central Illinois. These commonalities have led to a lovely little YMCA friendship. And what I really love is that he’s completely intrigued with my hobby.

It was about two weeks ago that I mentioned that I play roller derby, and since then, he’s researched it to find out more. Last week he told me he checked out the Springfield Roller Girls website and he asked about my derby name. This week, he had seen the pictures of me in the ER with a broken collarbone.

“It’s a rough sport,” he said. And again, I laughed.

I’ve heard lots of these types of comments lately—not just about how rough it can be, but about my name, too. In fact, I got a, “I may be a little frightened of Mary Lou Wretched…” last week. Who knows what others think—my mom especially—but aside from trying to always remain a machine on the track and a little smack talking that comes out of my mouth when it’s egged on, I don’t really think my roller derby persona is anything terrifying.

Besides, I’ve used pseudonyms for years. In my early days of writing, I was published under the name of Joy Lane, so having an alter ego of sorts is nothing new to me. Of course, having a name that sets the mood for your role in a bout is a little more fun than coming up with a pen name birthed from the way people supposedly come up with a porn name (your middle name and the street you grew up on). Speaking of which, my porn name is pretty lame.

I guess I like that I have what I’ll call a tripple-nym, and that one of these names gives the appearance of me being rough and tumble. Even if in real life, I’m quite the opposite. And while I hope everybody sees the real me, I like that I can have that persona to fall back on. Just in case I need it.

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