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Social Cypher

Over the years, I have been subjected to a variety of comments on my last name. The best my childhood friends could do was to call me “syphilis”. This was followed by cleverer acquaintances who asked “Do you have a sister Dee Cypher?” and devotees of the movie Angel Heart who would ask if I had a brother “Lou Cypher”.

Finally, in graduate school, a truly literate friend called me a social cypher, in reference to a passage from D. H. Lawrence’s The Rainbow, describing Ursula’s father as “… a social cypher, without form or standing”.