"Like a stalker thing?"
"No," I replied, "You don't get it. Her name is Tynan, too! That's crazy!"
Then I realized that my friend, Phil Jr. was sitting next to his father, Phil Sr.. Meeting someone with the same name wasn't a big deal to him. But it was for me. Until yesterday I'd never met anyone named Tynan before.
A year ago I was talking about my name in Boston with my cousin John. I don't remember the context, but I know that the result was me looking on Facebook to see if any other Tynans existed. Lots of people had it as a last name, but only one result turned up in the first couple pages. A girl named Tynan.
Without thinking too much about it, I sent her a message saying that we should high five some time and added her as a friend. I don't think we exchanged a single message in the following year, although I'd occasionally see a status update of hers on Facebook. Last week I happened to see one that said she was going to be in San Antonio. I was going to be in Austin, which is really close.
A short volley ensued over Facebook:
Tynan (her): San Antonio tomorrow? Yes, please!
Tynan: That's two Tynans in dangerous proximity...
Tynan: @Tynan - I'll be in Austin on the 1st. High five??
That settled it. Last night I texted her, got an address, and headed into the Austin unknown. I pulled my RV up to a house in the East campus area. As I walked to the front door, it opened and Tynan popped out. Packed into the doorway were all of her friends, clapping and cheering. Inside someone played a fanfare on the piano. If I've been fortunate enough to receive a grander welcome in my life, I don't remember it. We high fived once, which was mistimed, and quickly made up for it by connecting a solid high five afterwards.
Side note number one: At this point in the story, you might be thinking - quite reasonably- "Tynan is such a masculine name, rippling with testosterone and raw manly power. How could a girl get away with having such a name?"
Great question. The best I can offer is to say it's sort of like a motorcycle. If a guy rides a motorcycle it's really macho and awesome. But if a girl rides a motorcycle, it's ultra feminine and simultaneously badass. That somehow doesn't diminish the unbridled masculinity of the bike when under the control of a man. I don't understand how this works, but it seems to be the same with my name.
I was invited inside, where I sat in a living room with Tynan and all of her friends. The room went quiet for the great Tynan showdown. For half an hour or so, we talked about our name.
When you have an unusual name, it defines you in a way. After all, I basically make a living being Tynan. I imagine if you have a name like Jack, you feel like the name is associated with you, but not the very definition of you. I've always felt inseparable from my name. it is me.
I felt an instant bond with Tynan, maybe because of this. It's sort of like meeting someone and finding out that they lived in the same log cabin that you lived in, nestled up in the backwoods of Montana. Though not terribly significant, it's such a chance commonality that you feel connected in some way.
We shared stories about how our name affected us, the different weird ways people pronounce it, and how our parents chose it. The best story of the night was her story of meeting Ronan Tynan (the most famous of the Tynans, at least according to twitter). His assistant (he's a singer) asked her name. When she replied that it was Tynan, the assistant was annoyed and said, "No, what's YOUR NAME. Not his?" The mood was soured and the meeting with Mr. Tynan was ruined.
Side note number two: Tynan has almost eerily awesome friends. In the same way that when you think of a picture perfect family, you might imagine a beaproned mother pulling a pie out of the stove as her husband comes home from work and their one and a half kids ride their one and a half bikes in the driveway out front, if you picture the perfect group of friends, you might imagine Tynan's friends.
There were an equal number of guys and girls, mostly paired off into couples, sitting in a cozy house on new years day, playing board games and cooking for each other. They gave me a bowl of delicious black-eyed peas, which is apparently a New Years superstition. Each one was friendly and interesting in their own way: musicians, artists, and chefs, with one token guy who shunned success, but was still happy.
They all took pictures, and for the first time in my life, all the pictures I asked for were actually sent to me. Within twenty-four hours. Amazing.
An iPad was passed around with my site on it, which sparked questions about things like polyphasic sleep, pickup, and gambling. The RV came up too, and eventually I gave Tynan and her friend Tony (responsible for the picture up top - thanks!!) a tour. I believe we set a world record for most Tynans ever in a vehicle, but I can't be entirely sure.
Eventually the novelty of dueling Tynans wore off for everyone but the Tynans ourselves, so I said goodbye to get some sleep and let them continue the party. The pianist returned to the piano to play a sad farewell song, and high fives made way for hugs as I said goodbye. I walked back to my RV chuckling, thinking about how funny it is that you can make friends with someone just because they have the same weird name as you.
Many thanks to all of Tynan's friends for their hospitality and patience while Tynan and I reveled in the novelty of meeting another Tynan.
You can check out Tynan's site here, by the way: http://www.tynandavis.com/
In the past week I went solo skydiving and learned how to ride a motorcycle. Stories about those things coming up.
I'm heading back to SF this week for No Pants Day!
Also, VERY SORRY TO EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS about the blank post that got emailed earlier this morning. I didn't realize that was going to happen. I hate getting annoying things like that in my email, so I really apologize.