Facing the Wilderness
Who I am? Not Peter Prevails, but admit it. Didn’t hearing those syllables genuinely positively impress you? I know nothing about literary things, but I would say there’s alliteration in it and an onomatopoetic effect. Peter Prevails. It sounds great. That’s what I mean with the ‘o’ word. It sounds like you’d prevail.
Now, Eddie Wins. That’s a good name, too. I could live with Eddie Wins. Easily. But tell me, which one sounds like you’re trying harder? Peter Prevails? Or Eddie Wins? Prevails sounds more long-suffering, doesn’t it? But is that good or bad? It makes you think he has to maybe try too hard, doesn’t it? Whereas wins—ha! He tosses it off. Without swinging a fist. No sweat, but! No conviction. No skin in the game. That’s the catch. If someone doesn’t actually engage, can you call it a win? He’s just good fortune’s chump, convinced he’s champ because he reaped a windfall. I prefer the one who works for it. Not someone who has to work at it, understand, but someone who decides to put everything he’s got into it because he believes what he’s doing is right, not just for himself, but for the world.
So do you think prevails gets that notion across? Or does wins do it? Prevails prevails, doesn’t it? Unfortunately my name is neither. I am Edwin Edwin, a name which suggests redundancy and therefore weakness, slight erosion, else what need the reinforcement? Ed Win Ed Win. A double imperative, which you might imagine would wind me up and set me down marching, but it doesn’t have any effect whatsoever. I never do—win, that is—although I can’t very well introduce myself as Eddie Loses just to be honest, can I? And no one would stand for Eddie Lose. That just wouldn’t be nice.
Now, of course, you wouldn’t know that it just so happens that I am losing to the biggest contender of all time in this current window of my life. I guess I can take it. I have prepared for it all my life. And, of course, I have no choice, which tempers the game. Go down grinning? Not a chance. Exit sober and squared off? Probably not. Turn it into one last scramble? Unfortunately probably. Edfight. Edfitzfight. Edfitzfitzfight. Edfitzfitzfitzfight. We’ve been fighters all the way back, and we’ve all gone down early.
Yes, I know. You’re in a desperate hurry. You don’t have much time. But you did have time enough to attack me publicly for twenty minutes to this gathering of very attentive, politically active community members and thoroughly calumniate—how do you like that word? That’s a good one, isn’t it?—thoroughly calumniate my business and reputation, making my good name a matter of utmost concern to me now and which I must now address.
As for not having much time, you do. Your concern is what you spend it doing, for example, not talking to me. You have yet to face the ultimate prospect of its stopping altogether, that is to say, having nothing left to spend. So bear with me. It’s not gotten as desperate as it gets.
excerpt from early version of KKK, a stage play by CbM herself