Williams: Leap Years & Odd Debts

Leap Year Day is coming up.

When I first became Trumwill, Will Truman, instead of the blogging and commenting that I had done under my previous name, one of my main concerns is that people would quickly figure out who I was. Because of my early blogging topics, which included complaining about my employer and the local Mormon culture, that was not something I wanted to happen. So I wove in a few fictions with fact (and, of course, created an alternate map of the United States). I’ve since abandoned most of these things (and the ones I haven’t are true in their own way, if not entirely factually accurate).

Anyhow, one of the early fictions was shifting my birthday and being a couple years older than I actually am. I was actually relatively methodical about it, taking on the would-be birthday of the brother I did not have (whose name, incidentally, was to be William – my fictitious middle name is his, as well). As it turned out, the older brother that my mother miscarried was to be born on Leap Year Day in 1976. Thus making the construct of Will Truman not a couple years older than my actual self, but by counting birthdays a quarter of my actual age.

I think of this brother I never had on every LYD, which isn’t often since they only come around every four years. To say that he is the brother I did not have is not entirely accurate. Or maybe it is. My mother has alluded to the fact that had he been born, I never would have. So in an odd way, I owe him my life. I owe a debt to the doctors that might have prevented the miscarriage but did not.

William X was actually to be named after my mother’s brother, William “Herzog”. William Herzog died in an accident when he was a teenager. He was my mother’s only brother and her parents were never the same after that. They descended into alcoholism and left my mother (more or less) to raise her substantially younger siblings until she could hit 18 and leave. Her parents had always wanted sons (in real life, my mother has a boy’s name). They lost the willingness to forgive my mother for being female.

I would not go so far as to say that I am a “black sheep” in the family. I take after my mother in some ways and my fathers than others. My lineage, temperamentally and especially physically, is traceable for the most part. But some aspects of my mind and behavior would be inexplicable. My head’s residence in the clouds doesn’t trace to my mother or my father, really. Even among the artsy types in my family (my mother is a spectacular writer, my great grandfather was an artistic pioneer), there’s always been something a little “off” in comparison with me and the rest of my family. But according to my mother, this was always true of William Herzog. He got cut a lot of slack for being the only boy, but nonetheless. I didn’t know this until well, well after the fact, but my deceased uncle and I both got in trouble in middle school for writing comic books during class.

So I guess it fits that I took his name (or, the name of someone who was given his name) in my writing. With the exception of an uncle on my father’s side, I have had the pleasure to get to know all of my aunts and uncles. The two I most resemble are easily the gray sheep that I didn’t particularly get to know because he went his own way, and the uncle who died well before I was born.

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.


  1. This was a disquieting post, Will. The melancholy of what might have been is not something that is easily resolved.

    That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy reading it.

    • I’m in agreement with Burt. I don’t know what to make of this post, but it’s moving and thought-provoking. Thank you.

  2. Should Mrs. P and I have a son someday, she longs to name him Thomas, after her Father’s youngest brother. That baby was stillborn on my father-in-law’s eighth birthday.

    Something about the idea bothers me, what you’ve shared hits on the reasons for the discomfort. I’m still not sure if it moves me more toward being OK with the name or even less inclined, but it certainly will impact how I think about it. Thanks, Will!

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