Why Rocket Man?

Over the years, and certainly ever since I started this blog, I’ve often been asked one question.

“Why do you call yourself ‘Rocket Man’?”

Good question.

The answer to that has many facets, but the number one reason lies in the most obvious. It does have to do with Elton John.

I’ve always liked Elton’s music, but it wasn’t until high school that I really discovered Elton John and became a big fan. There was something about him that just drew me to him. It could have been his outlandish costumes, or his flashy persona; but overall I think it was the music itself. I was initially embarrassed to be a fan of Elton John, until one day a guy who I looked up to in the next grade said that he, too, was a fan of Elton John. After that, it was officially OK to be a fan.

But the name Rocket Man didn’t come about until I bought my first computer and discovered the wonderful world of Prodigy. Ahhh yes, Prodigy. Early, early, EARLY online experiences. 2400 baud modems. VGA monitors. Memories. *Sigh*.

My sister and I signed on to Prodigy with our very first computer, a Leading Edge 386SX with a 40MB hard drive and 1 MB of RAM. How that thing ever ran Windows 3.1, I’ll never know, but it did.

Through Prodigy, and its bulletin boards, we met many people all over the country. We both participated in a couple boards together, and I participated in the Elton John fan boards. It was there that my Rocket Man persona began to take shape.

Each member had their own identifier, and it was usually linked to an Elton John song, or a character in a song, such as “Tiny Dancer” or “Levon” or “Sugar Bear” (from “Someone Saved My Life Tonight”). I chose to call myself “Rocket Man Rick.”

When Prodigy waned and AOL surged, the members of the Prodigy boards tried to continue our postings on the AOL boards. We all transferred our personas to our screen names. I signed up but couldn’t use the full spelling of Rocket Man as my ID (at the time you were limited to only a certain number of characters). So I shortened Rocket Man to RcktMan. Initially, I was RcktMan22, but after about four years of changing my screen name (and subsequently my Email address) every time I grew a year older, I finally grew tired of that. By that time, I knew I was going to be moving to Chicago, so I changed it to RcktManIL. It’s been that way ever since.

The Elton John fanatacism died down, but the name stuck. While I’m still a fan of Elton’s music, he isn’t the primary focus of my online experience anymore.

However, I do love the song Rocket Man very much. The lyrics are very freeing and uplifiting. They speak to me, and I think of them often as I live my life. What started as a simple homage to a musical artist that I admired has become sort of an identity. And I kinda like it.

“And I think it’s gonna be a long, long, time
Til touchdown brings me ’round again to find
I’m not the man they think I am at home
Oh no, no, no…
I’m a Rocket Man
Rocket Man, burning up his fuse up here alone”

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