What’s In a Name?

Ever since that golfing phenom came on the scene several years ago, I have found that more and more people have difficulty with my name. It has become an international issue, as well. A few years back, I went to Managua, Nicaragua to teach a seminar in the Baptist Seminary with some other staff members from my church.  Upon walking through the door of the seminary, I came face to face with a poster advertising the upcoming training opportunity only to find that the seminar was being taught by “Pastor Tiger Woods.” Suffice it to say, the rest of our little entourage got a great big belly laugh. I was only slightly amused.

I have decided to take advantage of this digital age and, once and for all, explain the genesis of my nomenclature. Now all I have to do henceforth is send folks a link to this post and save my breath.

First of all, be it known far and wide that I was “Tiger” before that “other guy” was “Tiger!”

To help give some context and background for my name, I came across this visual aid that might expedite the process…


Many thanks to my sister, Mimi, and lifelong friend, Phoebe, because a mutual friend of theirs actually posted this on social media and I shamelessly copied and pasted it here.

My story starts with my mother and father, Tom and Rose Brooks. [LOL! No … that’s not what I meant.] My dad was an Exxon dealer in Kingsport for more than 40 years. Point of fact, he started at his first location, Stone Drive Esso, in 1964 on Stone Drive right above Lynn Garden Drive, and, later, opened a second location at 1800 East Stone Drive known as Tom Brooks Exxon. He operated both for a few years before selling the first location and maintaining the second for more than three decades until he retired and sold the property to Kroger several years ago. The Kroger Fuel Center sits on the location now.

When I was born (1970), Esso had not yet rebranded as Exxon (that happened in 1972 for all U.S. locations after the purchase of Humble Oil – around the world, it is still known as Esso). The slogan Put a Tiger In Your Tank was all the rage back then. The company gave away tiger tails and they could be seen hanging out of gas filler lids on cars everywhere. So as the story goes, when my mom became pregnant with me, being the free-spirit that she is, she loved going around telling everyone, “Tom put a ‘Tiger’ in my tank!” My given birth name is Thomas L. Brooks Jr.  Okay … okay, if you must know, the “L” stands for Lester. There! I said it! I’ll own it! If you give me grief about it I will baptize you … for three minutes.

My entire family has called me “Tiger” my whole life. When I was in kindergarten, I came home from school one day very distraught. When mom asked me what was wrong, I said, “Mommy, why don’t I have a name like “Mark,” or “John,” like the other boys?” Sensing my frustration, Mom said, “You do, sweetheart, your real name is Thomas. How does Tommy sound?” I lit up! I thought to myself, “I don’t have to answer questions with ‘Tommy’!” So for the rest of my elementary and middle school years I went by “Tommy.”

For some reason when I got to high school, I guess I thought I had grown out of “Tommy” and I just started going by “Tom.” I had also started working for my Dad at the station by then and in those circles, Tom Jr., seemed to carry a little more weight. All through high school and into college I went by “Tom.” Keep in mind, this entire time my family and really close friends still only called me “Tiger.” When I see people on the street I can always tell how long they have known me by what they call me.

My undergraduate collegiate odyssey took 13 calendar years to complete and would be an entire post all unto itself. Years five through eleven did not involve any schooling whatsoever as I quit to manage Tom Brooks Exxon full-time while also getting married. However, at the age of 29, God got a hold of me and laid on my heart a new purpose. Returning to school to complete my BS in Business Administration, I simply went by the name that was most closely associated with me my whole life – “Tiger.”

During this same time, I had opportunities to get into radio broadcasting, first covering Dobyns-Bennett football games on WKIN and now on ESPN Tri-Cities. I was also hired part-time at WCQR and for more than 15 years I have been known to listeners all over East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia as “Tiger Brooks.”

Now having completed bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, each one of my diplomas reads, “Thomas L. ‘Tiger’ Brooks, Jr.” If the Lord ever calls me away from Kingsport, it will probably not be easy for new folks to call me “Pastor Tiger” or, especially, “Dr. Tiger Brooks.” I admit that it probably feels a little odd to say those things, but after 46 years of wrangling with it and answering questions about it, “Tiger” is my name and I own it!

For Your Christmas Enjoyment, “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch”

Before I get all the angry people screaming, “Christmas is Jesus!” I believe I already know well the meaning of the season. This is me having fun with a song that meant a lot to me in my childhood.

Enjoy and Merry Christmas!


That Awkward Moment at the Dermatologist’s Office

In February of last year, my dermatologist discovered a spot on my face that turned out to be melanoma. In March they successfully and skillfully surgically removed it and I have a barely noticeable scar on my left cheek. Since that time, I have had two full body “scans” and have had no more problems. The second of those body scans occurred just yesterday.

I am of the opinion that the circle of people of the opposite sex who have seen you naked ought to be a small one. You know, like, your momma and your wife. Okay, I probably have to put my big sister in there, though that troubles me a tad. So when I am sitting on the examination table in my boxer briefs and a sheet and my female dermatologist walks back in with, not one, but two female companions,  the following internal commentary is how this modest man’s mind copes with it:

“Well, ladies, FEAST YOUR EYES!”

“If the underwear goes, there WILL be a surcharge.”

“Maybe the tanning bed should have been a consideration. Tan fat looks better than white fat… oh wait… this is the dermatologist.”

“One friend for accountability’s sake, but two friends??? Now its an exhibition.”

“The expanse of my body is such that it takes six eyes to do this scan job in a timely fashion.”

“Ladies, now I know how it feels to walk past the construction site.”

“You are smiling now, just don’t laugh when I leave.”

“Don’t make eye contact! Don’t make eye contact!”

Honestly, it was not that bad at all. I share this humorous anecdote mainly because I want to, at least, begin the dialogue for you in your home with those you love. If you have any strange spots/places show up on your body, PLEASE let a loved one check it out and if you have any question at all, talk with your doctor. Believe me, it is totally worth any momentary discomfort. It can save your life.