My parents named me Zanni, for the clowns in commedia dell’arte. They didn’t want to name me Cyrano, or Jimmy Durante or even Pinocchio (fortunately). And they didn’t want me confused with Steve Martin’s movie, Roxanne. But they wanted to remind me that I was a clown, a misfit, a character to be joked at and even scorned…and not just because of my powers.
By now you may suspect why my name is Zanni or at least what led my beloved parents to saddle me with that moniker for life. I have a large nose, and the Zanni clowns from the theater of commedia dell’arte were known for their long noses (although in their cases, they wore masks onstage). In fact the longer their nose, the stupider the characters were, and my parents found that hilarious when I was born. They love to tell the story of how it took ten contractions for my nose to pop out and two for the rest of me. Great role models. Don’t be surprised when you see how that turned me into the wonderful person I am today.
But my nose is only one side of me. Granted, it’s a large side that invariably arouses jokes and zingers from those bold enough to speak openly. Everyone else just moves to the other side of the street where there’s more room.