In my youth, Highlander was popular. Not world beating everyone knows all about it popular, but popular. Several movies were made. There were, I believe, two television series. From around seventh grade on, people would ask me if my name was like the Highlander’s.
The first thing that was absurd about this was that they always said, “Macleod, like the highlander?” There seemed to be some suspicion that I would surprise the world, and English spelling, by saying “No.” Of course Macleod like the damned highlander. It was, in fact, spelled the same way.
The second thing that annoyed me was that they always seemed to want me to gush about the movie or show. Now, while they’re hardly high art, there are certainly worse things that humans have produced. But that doesn’t mean I’m a particular fan. I don’t own the DVDs or any of that. So it baffled me why people always seemed to expect me to gush about the Highlander franchise. As if I was somehow expected to be grateful that my surname was somehow lifted from obscurity to the heights of stardom. But it’s really the “no relation” category that’s supposed to bother you, so Highlander being fictional, it felt like I was not allowed to be annoyed. While there are plenty of at least marginally famous Macleods out there (many spellings) none of us seems to have risen to the point that I have to declare that I don’t know them. (I checked on Wikipedia by the way, it seems that there are several Macleods writing science fiction, several politicians, and one female Macleod who’s greatest claim to fame is being topless in Snakes on a Plane. Thank god that movie didn’t do well at the box office, Highlander was annoying, I’d hate to have to answer “Macleod, like the lady who got her tit bit in Snakes on a Plane?”)
You can imagine that I’ve enjoyed the franchise’s slip into relative obscurity.
There are many men named Ian. It was once one of the most popular names for boys in Britain.
But I was informed by my sister in law this holiday season that “Uncle Ian” is the villain in Alvin and the Chipmunks. My nieces and nephews apparently love that franchise. So now, sharing baldness with the villain, it appears I’ve got a new piece of cultural detritus to live with. Other Ians, please become more famous. I need you to overshadow some chipmunks.