Much has been made of Senator-elect Scott Brown's surprise victory in Massachusetts and its impact on national politics. Less has been said about its effect on thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of ordinary, everyday Scott Browns. See, I'm a fairly obscure guy named Scott Brown (with light skin and no Negro dialect unless I choose to have one), and I, like others of my kind, rejoice in the bowel-loosening triumph of Republican Scott Brown over I-Hate-Myself-And-Want-To-Die-o-crat Martha Coakley. Do I oppose health care reform? Not at all, especially now that it's apparently guaranteed to remain coyly theoretical forever. Do I drive a truck and take naked pictures of myself? The answers are no and maybe--distribute them as you wish. No, I exult in a Scott Brown victory for one reason and one reason only: No one ever, ever remembers my name.
Oh, they will now. No longer will I be forced to use the handle "Arlen Specter" in singles bars or "Larry Craig" in men's bathrooms or "Tyler Perry's Scott Brown" to cut in line at movie premieres. Now I know how legions of giddy "Joe Wilsons" felt last fall! It's heady stuff. And while my progressive purlieus of Brooklyn might not be the best fit politically with my now-infamous moniker--indeed, I'd be better off redubbing myself "Lee Harvey Hitler" or, even more Teutonically, "Curt Schilling"--I'll never again be mislabeled "Steve Brown" or "Seth Brown" or, strangest of all, "Mark Brown." (Why does everyone want to call me Mark Brown? Brown comma Mark: Is this some subliminal, semantically advanced update on the fifth-grade "Doo-Doo Brown" jokes? Or a weird UPS reference I'm not getting?)
I've never blamed the forgetters. "Scott Brown" is a name designed to be forgotten, as Stephen Colbert aptly demonstrated in an extended riff a few days ago. ("Towels? No that can't be right.") Unlike "John Smith," it's not even distinctly generic. It's just boring. Want to hide a bomb, a baby, or a now-troublesome health-care vote? Name it "Scott Brown" and park it in plain sight. People will call it "Mark" and move on. And that's how we ended up with Scott Brown, R-MA: He waltzed in through the front door, and no one noticed until it was too late. "Scott Brown" is a nomenclatural Jedi mind-trick--and my one regret is, I won't be able to use it anymore. No more zipping through airport security, no more freeloading, latte-free, on the cafe wi-fi--from now on, I'm going to stick out. My Scott Brownness, once my invisibility cloak, is now my scarlet "A." People are going to start calling me out on stuff, like when I leap from Harry Potter to Hawthorne in one clumsy logic-lurch.
But the benefits far outweigh the risks. Scott Brown was elected, in theory, because he is an exceedingly average man, a fact underlined by his exceedingly average name. (Though perhaps Glenn Beck is right, and he's an above-average sex criminal with an exceedingly average name.) By becoming the truck-having, arms-baring, happy-trail-flashing avatar of all things Teabaggerific, however, he's made my forgettable name a mystical shibboleth. "Scott Brown," like the angry Teabag "movement" and its sour, equally inchoate left-wing twin, now stands for everything AND nothing. "Scott Brown" means "everything that's wrong" and also "everything that's right." "Scott Brown" means "a wake-up call" and "a new beginning." No one can decide what the rise of Scott Brown means, and that's a very good sign for all Scott Browns: It'll keep the name vague and omnipotent, like the Tetragrammaton. It'll stay two punchy syllables that are hard to pin down, but impossible to dismiss. The linguists, semioticians and Deconstructicons are going to have a blast with this one for years to come. So thank you, Scott Brown, for nothing. No, no--not "thanks for nothing"! I absolutely mean it: Thank you for sharing your glorious void with us, your true constituency, the overlooked Scott Browns of the world. If you ever need to stage a Dave-style switcheroo, I'm available.