Tuesday, August 4, 2009

What's in a name? That which we call a rose..."

Okay, let's start off by saying I wasn't always enamored of my name.

I felt odd cause no one else shared it with me. My brothers all had regular old All-American "guy" names: Bill, Bobby and Rick. How come I had something out of the ordinary? [When you're a kid you totally want to fit in, don't you? If you're lucky, as you mature, you realize standing out rocks.]

When I eventually found out how I got my name, it was kinda cool. I was 4 days old before it was bestowed upon me--by my oldest brother. My parents, excited over their first [and, it turned out, only] girl, could not agree on what name suited me. My father suggested Joan, after one of his nieces. My mother politely demurred: "There's already a Joan in the family. It'll be like 'Robert'." [Say "Bob" at one of my dad's family reunions and 15 guys would turn around.] Then dad offered Jane...."Oh no," said my mother, "Then she'll get 'Plain Jane.' I'm not doing that to our daughter." [Third kid in six years, I guess mom was a little cranky--she usually never argued with my dad.]

Well this continued on.....with the letter "J" seeming to having a real hold on the negotiations for some reason . Into the picture comes my 6 year old eldest brother; he was a happy little first grader. I guess my dad was talking about his nameless little sister to him as he was putting him to bed or something.... In his school reader, the main characters were John, Jean and Judy [apparently a contender, albeit briefly]. BUT--they had two friends who lived down the block: Bobby and Ellen. Six year old reasoning being what it is, he made the connection: "We have a Bobby, why not an Ellen?" Bingo, I had a name.

Now, when it came time for my late husband and I to name our two little ones, I agonized over it for months. And I mean agonized--I remembered my feelings when I was little and didn't want to put my kids through the same thing. Our daughter was born on Valentine's Day of 1975 and my hubby allowed me to pick her name. After much thought, I chose Megan as a tribute of sorts to my Irish grandfather. I opted to not use the more Gaelic spelling, Meghan, because I thought it might confuse people. As it was, my husband's grandmother could never remember it--she called her "Nutmeg" til the day she died. I had real doubts about my choice after the umpteenth time I explained the name--but then The Thornbirds came out and by the time she started kindergarten there were two other Megans.

Our son joined the family on March 14th, 1976. His dad got the honors of naming him and chose Jason--partly after Jason and the Argonauts. It's a good strong name and our son has grown into a good strong man. I think both of my children are very happy with their names--thank God. I would feel awful if I found out I'd stuck them with something they hated.

A name can influence your behavior, I think. It can make you feel like you have "street cred." I mean it's hard to go all gangsta with the name Cuthbert or Chauncey. And who could feel very sexy/glamourous named something like, say, Agnes? By the same token, names such as Chastity or Faith can put alot of pressure on a person. A name can be a powerful entity that casts a shadow over who you are in life.

I often wonder what was going through their parents minds when I hear some people's names. Now some are very cool and have real character to them, but others......
Some poor souls are stuck with the most outrageous monikers! I know if it was me and I had a name that just screamed to be mocked, I'd be down at the courthouse changing it the minute I turned 21.

But maybe I'm just a wimp.

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