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Tuesday, June 15, 2004

What's in a name?
It may seem strange for a boy to have had five last names, but here's my story...

I was born Kenneth John Anthony Mortenson Jr. in Brooklyn NY, but I didn't find out about my last name until I was 16 years old. Until then my father was a stranger, first known to me at age 14 when my mother told me about my 'uncle Ken' (when he paid for my trip to the 1973 boy scout jamboree in Coeur d'Alene Idaho.) Although my mother loves me in her way she has always had a problem with truth. I was told I was named Ken after him, but nothing else.

I was raised the oldest of 6 children although technically I'm an only child since my mother and father only had me. My father went on to marry Miss San Salvadore and I have two half-brothers Eddie and Paul. I met my father at my grandmothers house in Brooklyn when I was 16. He offered to pay for my college. What I wanted was to know my father, college was a separate issue to be dealt with later. What I didn't know was my mother made a deal with my father to pay for my college instead of child support. Later when I was twenty my father told me that he wasn't my father, except genetically. I have to agree with the jerk, but it's not something you tell a young man in the way he did. I don't think he's a bad man and has lived with his own pains I'm sure, but he never did become my father... his loss.

My step-father, Joseph Benjamin (he died a few years back) was my dad AFAIK until I became 16, then when I was going to visit my relative in NY (I was living with my disintegrating family in Phoenix AZ at the time) my mother finally told me who my father was. It was traumatic for both my mom and my (step)dad in different ways, but for me the truth was very enlightening... it explained a lot.

I went to California to live with my dad and second oldest sister. They both had terrible tempers and when I put myself between them I was thrown out... at 16, with an old Dodge Dart and $50 I was out on my own.

Anyway, what about my other last names? When I was five, my last name was Carlino... I don't remember my name before that, but it was DeCarlo from documents I've seen. It seems my step-father was running away from an ex-wife (and his child support.) My stepfather was gifted when it came to creating birth certificates for the family. I first found out my mother was a liar when she told me my last name was being changed from Carlino to Benjamin because it was easier to spell (we were heading to Washington state to avoid the chase.) Even at five, I understood that to be a lie, but I never questioned my mother about it... I figured she had her reasons.

I was a strange kid... my grandmother had 13 kids (1 or 2 stillborn) and I have an uncle Teddy that is 13 days older than me and an aunt Debbie that is two years younger. Apparently by all accounts (confirmed by other liars in my family) I never cried as a child. I also have an IQ of 160, so when my mother told me about easier spelling of my name, she misjudged my ability to understand (or couldn't come up with a better lie?)

My stepdads father was very rich. I never knew him, but I did meet my great aunt and it's a disappointment to this day that I never met him. He never forgave my step-dad for leaving his first wife and children and I suspect he is the reason the FBI were once close on my stepdads trail, in an obscure little town that we left soon after.

So there ya go... DeCarlo, Carlino, Benjamin, Mortenson, and oh... the rest of the story?

In honor of my father disowning me at twenty, when I turned forty I dropped my last name and just considered myself Kenneth John Anthony. It hasn't been changed legally (derailed when a girlfriend fixed her car with my money instead of taking the papers I'd filled out to court.) I didn't bother after that.

Other interesting name facts... my uncle RP had his name legally changed to that since he was named after an older stillborn brother Ronald. He got $5 million in a court settlement after losing a leg but is pennyless today. I couldn't help but tell him how stupid he was for not living on 10% interest ($500,000.00 per year) for the rest of his life. I only did it once, and it just came out. I really didn't want to hurt his feelings... but man, is he a jackass!

Worse to me is his daughter's attitude that it was great while it lasted... while it lasted? It should never have not lasted??? Whatever!

My cousin Raymond (double cousin actually, his mother is my mothers sister and his father is my fathers brother) tells me that not only is Marilyn Monroe a relative, but we have a cousin (that I've never seen) that is the spitting image. Of course, in the field of liars, Raymond holds special honors.

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Me, I don't lie, but the truth is too bizarre to believe.

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