Even though I had to ask my buddy Sean T. Collins what the heck a Tumblr is, I have in fact been a small part of the internet for a while now. My parents got our first computer when I was in 6th grade, which by my (probably incorrect) count places it circa 1995. I never really got into the nuts and bolts of computers (as evident in the fact that I think they have nuts and bolts), but back then we had Prodigy and I was all about chat rooms, TV trivia & comic book bulletin boards and whatnot (who needed the “internet” back then?). Anyway, I remember early on blatantly stealing the handle of a character from the coolest movie about computers ever, Hackers (well, maybe Sneakers is cooler). So yeah, I was one of the thousands of ZeroKools you might have encountered in the mid 90s on Prodigy.
That didn’t last too long, though. A few years later I went to high school where I decided to take Latin based solely on the whacky teacher Doc Russo who talked about Monty Python (13-year-old TJ was sold, even though he was kind of annoyed by the end of Holy Grail the first time he saw it). Concurrently, I had developed a fascination with monkeys and not just because they throw poop (maybe). Well, one day in Latin class, Dominic Armenio, the dude who sat in front of me, turns around out of nowhere and told me that Dietsch Monkey would be an awesome nickname for me. I kind of stared at him for a second and then smiled, mentally slapping myself for not thinking of it sooner. After spending the rest of the day doodling it in my notebooks, I switched the spelling on both words (“Deech,” is how you pronounce my last name) and there you have it.
Back in those days of Prodigy you had a log-in name that you couldn’t change and I was stuck with my actual name, but you COULD change your handle on the chat rooms and bulletin boards, so, ZeroKool was dropped for DeechMonkee and it’s stuck ever since. When Prodigy shed it’s boards and chat rooms to become just an internet provided (“hahaha” we all said in our chat rooms, “good luck making that work!”) the fam bounced on over to AOL where I was able to choose my own screen name.
But all did not go according to plan. It seems someone already had DeechMonkee! I was shocked. I never met that other Deech, but he or she eventually left and I was able to get the name on AIM which I still have today.
And in a weird twist of fate, after YEARS of having the nickname online but no one ever calling me that in real life, I met Emily. She used to call me Dietsch all the time because that’s what my fraternity brothers called me, but that really bugged me so she switched over to calling me “monkey.” Sweet huh?