And the portal created by that computer key stroke and Facebook is how I got to meet, like, respect and find more joys of life with two other men named, wait for this… Joe Goldblatt
I have always struggled with my surname. Perhaps the zenith of my misfortune was when I was asked to appear in a photo with the former First Lady of the United States, Betty Ford.
Mrs Ford was to cut the ribbon opening a Christmas festival and I appeared in my mime face and costume beside her. As she snipped the ribbon, I offered her my left cheek for a small peck and she obliged.
Dozens of flashes suddenly went off and our photograph appeared for posterity in over 200 US newspapers. Unfortunately the caption misspelled my surname as Joe Jeff Goldballs.
Early in my teaching career, I taught many unusual courses for an outfit known as Open University in Washington, DC. One of these courses was entitled Social Kissing and in the two-hour class, adult professional students learned the history of ‘osculation’ and specific techniques such as the air kiss that was essential for politicians and their partners to fake sincerity and affection when meeting strangers.
The producer of a popular long-time American television game show entitled “To Tell the Truth” rang me up and invited me to appear on the show as the Kissing Professor.
The show’s premise was that a person with a real back story and two imposters would answer questions from a panel of celebrities. The panel had to guess who was the real Joe Goldblatt.
Despite my best efforts, I was unsuccessful at confusing the panel and they unanimously selected me as the real Joe Goldblatt. I returned from New York city with my consolation prizes of a thermos flask and a suitcase. I suppose I learned that despite my best efforts, I could not escape being Joe Goldblatt.
The name Joe Goldblatt is perhaps not as common as John Smith or even John Doe, however, as my father always taught me, a good name is priceless.
When papa opened his hardware store, he did not have any money to purchase advertising. Instead, he paid a calligrapher to place beautiful words about the importance of a good name in a frame on the front window of his shop. That frame and those words are now displayed in my home in Scotland to remind me and my family of our good name.
Therefore, I initially went in search of others bearing my name out of curiosity and then to see if there were any common themes to our lives. I wondered if I could find at my age some fellow musketeers for a bit of fun and fellowship?
Out of pure curiosity, I searched on Facebook for the other Joe Goldblatts in its universe of two billion people. I found five men with this exact name and sent each a brief introduction through a private message and wondered if any would indicate they welcomed further conversation.
Two of the men turned out to be similar in personality to myself and we found we had much in common. To keep matters simple, I nicknamed the other two Joes as Primus for the oldest, Segundus for the second oldest and myself as Tertius as I am the baby of our new tribe.
Both Primus and Segundus share with me a fabulous sense of humour. Primus sees humour in everyday life. Prior to our recent initial video call, Segundus wrote to me, “As you were once a mime, we won’t need the audio part.”
All three Joe Goldblatts have enjoyed long marriages. However, Segundus’s wife told me that she had to confess that although she had been married to her husband for 52 years, she had been carrying on with a Scotsman for 14 years. She then paused for dramatic effect and said that they owned a Scottish collie dog and that he had been one of the great loves of her life.
What I have learned from this early exploration of the name Joe Goldblatt is that within the universe of Facebook, there are at least two other fellows whose devotion to family, hard work, and having a good laugh are similar to my own.
For me, this is very reassuring because it is nice to know that Joe Goldblatts come in multiples and that perhaps this may be good for the wider world as well.
Through this journey in search of other Joe Goldblatts, I have learned that a good name is the most precious thing a man can own. It may be the only thing a man may actually own.
During a global pandemic that has closed so many doors for so many, I have been fortunate in being able to open a window through the internet and find two other interesting fellows who share with me, what I believe they have proven to be, a very good name indeed.
Professor Joe Goldblatt is emeritus professor of planned events at Queen Margaret University where he held the world’s first chair in this field. He is the author, co-author and editor of 40 books in the field of planned events. He lives with his wife Nancy in Edinburgh, Scotland, where to his knowledge, he is the only Joe Goldblatt