The question has been posed to your resident mad man whether my frequent use of the skull and crossbones (or variations thereof) has any sinister connotations. I have been asked about this before, though probably not as often as some might think (it is rather odd I suppose). I have heard a few odd suggestions over what I might be intending to convey in my use of such symbols. One suggested this was a subtle show of support for internet piracy (not true, I tend to view any piracy as something negative -like most people) but my personal favorite was the suggestion that this was some unconscious effort on my part to equate monarchy with poison -which shows that some people have way too much free time on their hands; unconscious or not, even I’m not that crazy-contradictory. So, since being asked about it again I thought I might explain it just for the sake of anyone who may be curious but has never been inclined to ask about it.
First of all, let me assure you there is no sinister intention behind it. I may be a touch on the creepy side but I am certainly not specifically trying to convey that. Nor am I a part of or intending to show support for any conspiratorial secret societies. I might point out that, although far from common, the skull and bones symbol has been used by monarchists around the world in the past. From the Whites in Russia to the Black Brunswickers in Germany to the Carlists in Spain various monarchist groups have made use of the image to symbolize their attitude of “death to traitors” in reference to those who took up arms against their sovereign. I could say that and that would be perfectly true and I have, in some of my doodling, incorporated the symbol in that sort of framework. However, that would not be the complete truth which is actually far less dramatic, deep or meaningful and just personal.
For some reason, members of my family have always had something unique associated with them. My mother, for example, always had a thing for monkeys so, over time, people sent her every sort of stuffed monkey imaginable. For my father it was pigs, because he always thought piglets were cute. For my sister it was Tweety Bird because of a nickname our Grandfather gave her and so, over time, she acquired a ton of stuff related to Tweety Bird. Our grandfather gave almost everyone a nickname, something special between him and the (originally) child in question. One couple who were friends of my grandparents had a son named Jackson and my historically minded Grandpa immediately nicknamed him “Stonewall Jackson” (after the famous Confederate general). This little tot eventually grew into a very, very large young man and was an accomplished football player. Guess what everyone still called him. Yep, “Stonewall”. The nicknames Grandpa gave usually drew on some aspect of the person in question, though not always. My sister got her nickname solely because Grandpa proved incapable of pronouncing her actual name.
Well, in my case, Grandpa gave me a nickname that was based on the rather skeletal appearance I’ve had pretty much ever since I lost my baby fat. My Grandma never liked it because she was afraid I would think I was being made fun of and develop a complex or something (oh, if only that were all…) but I knew my nickname was an affectionate term. As with the others, because of that nickname, skulls, bones and skeletons have just become associated with me over time. It was never anything sinister, though I raised quite a few eyebrows at my very strict, private Christian school with things like my keychain with a skeleton on it or my bone-carved necklace with a smiling skull on it. And it continues to this day. Not long ago my sister gave me a doormat with a skull and bones on it as a birthday present. As the years have gone by I have probably held a little more tightly to this (probably silly) personal symbol because the two people closest to me who always called me by the nickname that inspired this, my Grandfather and an uncle of mine, have since gone on to their eternal rewards. Only those people closest to me ever called me by my nickname and those people are almost all gone now so I’m sure I display it even more now than I used to just as a way of keeping their memory close at hand. Others may misunderstand it or simply not know what it means, but all that really matters to me is that I do.
It may seem morbid or creepy to a lot of people (and I can seem that way myself often enough I suppose) but the bones, skulls and skeletons are just images I have been associated with for most of my life because of the nickname given to me by my grandfather, the greatest, saintliest man I have ever known, (a very cheerful and funny man by the way who loved playing pranks and exchanging jokes) and whose memory I cherish. Grandpa was never very good at remembering names (nicknames were easier for him, again, because they were chosen because of something unique that stood out about that person) but though few call me by my nickname anymore, I still cling to it and, God willing, if by some miracle I am able to see my Grandfather again some day, I know exactly what he will call me. I cannot imagine anything better than the feeling of hearing his voice call me that again. So, again, rest assured, it's nothing sinister, just a personal thing.
I hope that clears up any confusion.
As ever, The Mad Monarchist