"Mike Pence is in the house!" my longtime friend Jeff declared last weekend when I stepped into his new microbrewery. This was met with a chorus of groans and chuckles from the bar. "How are things going?" he asked. "Oh, you know," I played along halfheartedly, knowing that most everyone else still thinks this is funny. "I'm just messing everything up as quickly as possible."
I am not, of course, Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana and now our vice president-elect, God help us all. If anything, I am in many ways the opposite of the governor: a progressive atheist software developer who, having been raised a Jehovah's Witness, has a healthy aversion to Orwellian thought-control cults of any political or religious origin.
It's been a tough year to be Mike Pence. Not that I have ever had a strong affinity for my name as a unique identifier, having been raised, like the VP-elect's son, as a Mike Pence Jr., and never having had a strong reaction to the always-raised "Mike or Michael?" question. But sometimes you don't value a thing until you have lost it, and when people suddenly associate your name with someone you personally find to be a monster.