Tuesday, September 08, 2009

What's in a Name?

Juliet: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

Would it really? I've been undergoing a bit of name crisis lately. You see, my name is not my own. When I was a teenager, I did a little research and found that there were at least 27 people in the United States who had the same first and last name I do. Many of these people are my cousins. You see, I have a very, VERY large family. My father was one of 12 children, each of those children have had at least three children of their own (many have five or more). Each of those children have had children, and many of those children have had multiple children. I'm one of the youngest of the children of the original 12 children, so I have many second and third cousins who are the same age as me, if not older. Out of this whole group, my first name is a very popular choice. When e-mailing aunts, uncles or cousins, my signature line usually has to be followed by "daughter of Joe and Shirley" in order for them to know which one I am. (To be even more confusing, my mother was not the only Shirley to marry an (enter last name here) brother, so I can't just put "daughter of Shirley). All this name duplicity made things very confusing at family reunions.

I recently did another search, and discovered that there are way more than 27 people in the world now with my same first and last names. There are dozens who even share my middle initial. Of those dozens, there are a goodly amount who have the exact same name I do. This freaks me out. It's hard to feel one is an individual when there are people out there in cyberspace with your exact same name!

This whole "being one of many" thing is what led me to give my son the name I did. It is fairly unique (although I stole it from a high school classmate). When coupled with his middle name, which is also fairly unique (it's one of my favorite uncles' real first name, although he goes by his middle name), and when added to his last name, well, there isn't another one like him in the entire world. I like this. My son, however, does not. He has insisted on shortening it to "Jamie". He says he doesn't like his real first name because it's "too weird." I guess that just goes to show how much one's perception is affected by one's name. I have a very common first name, so I want my child(ren) to have unique names. (If I ever have a little girl, I'm going to name her Jonah). He has a unique name, and apparently would rather have a common one. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if he grew up to have a child and name him "John" or "James." Not that there's anything wrong with those names, but they're just - well, fairly common.

*I apologise for this post being about a common subject. I have several things about which I'm all het up, but I won't post on these for many reasons. 1) This is not a political blog. This blog is my way of amusing myself while keeping those I love (or at least like) abreast of how our lives have been since we transplanted down to Texas. When I start talking politics, my blood pressure rises, I get angry, and then I am definitely NOT amused. 2) Life is too short to alienate people because what I happen to believe is not what you happen to believe. 3) What mother on earth doesn't enjoy talking about her kid? I'm no exception. I will find never ending ways to talk about my son. When talking politics, I usually get so angry I start to sputter. It's one thing to sputter at another in person. When writing, it's just annoying. So I refuse to do it. 4) Opinions are like buttholes, everyone has one. I don't need to add any more crap to the atmosphere by airing mine. So I stick to a safe subject, my kid, my life, and the occassional spooky story, sappy poem/short story, or amusing anecdote about a non-existent cat. Sorry if my lack of political punditing bores you.


Jessi said...

That's why my kids have such weird names, because I hated being Jessica J. through elementary school and Jessi-girl through high school and college. No more! I said. Then I named my girls names that were in the 900's on the popularity list the year they were born. Neither has an opinion yet, but I'm sure they will name their kids whatever is clever and popular.

ann said...

One of our friends just changed his name. He really just reversed the order--switched first and middle.

I'm curious to know what you would rather be named?

Ooooh, don't pick my word verification: inema.

Suze said...

I have a good friend who had her last name legally changed to her mother's maiden name when she turned 18. Neat, huh?

There is actually at least one other person in this country with my first and last name. Her dad is kind of famous, so people have, on occasion, asked me if I'm her. I say no, but her son is about my age and I know him (sigh).

Strangeite said...

There are at least four other Roy Cornett's in the world that I know of, not counting my father.

I don't mind too bad because I bought years ago, roycornett.com and grabbed the similar user ids for most of the major web sites.

They may share my name in real life, but I dominate it in cyberspace.

Jenn-Jenn, the Mother Hen said...

I'm not sure that I would name myself anything else. I strongly identify with my name, I just am really bugged by the fact that there are numerous other people in this world who strongly identify with their names (or at least, I think they do) and those names happen to be the same as mine. I tried for many years to change it up with nicknames: Jenny, Jae, Dawn, Stormy (granted to me by a male friend during my particularly moody - and scary - teenaged/high school years), but none of them stuck because I didn't really identify myself with them. The closest I have come to identifying with a name other than my birth name is my "handle" I use in online forums and chat rooms. I have been using this handle/persona since high school, and I truly feel it reflects me. However, I wouldn't change my name to it because 1) it would be a pain in the butt to legally change all my paperwork, plus my son's birth certificate, to reflect a new name; 2) If I changed my name to that handle, then it would defeat the purpose of having a handle in the first place, and I wouldn't be able to use it anymore. So, I'll just stick to my given name. The funny thing is, I complain so much about so many people having my name, but even if I ever got married, I would keep my maiden name. Maybe my name should have been "Mary", as in "Mary, Mary, quite contrary". :-)

Jessi said...

I wouldn't change my name. Mainly because it would hurt my mom's feelings, but I would rather be named Zoe.

Jenn-Jenn, the Mother Hen said...

I like the original Ukrainian version, Zoya ("life"). I've always considered you a very lively person, so - if you did ever change it - I would consider it a fitting name for you. :-)

Sage said...

Just reading a bit backward... I hit you when I hit Jessi.

James is really becoming an uncommon name (and so is John)... which I think is very odd. Mostly, I'm wondering if I can guess (or if I know, or if I just think I know) your son's name from names from high school.

And... I've liked my name since about middle/high school. Grade school, not so much.

(Still, I admit, I do get annoyed now and then. Sage... what? Page? No, Sage... what? Shay? Noo, Sage... what?? Faith??) (FAITH!? seriously? those don't even rhyme) (I did have a old lady once come back with, "What?? Mary??" to which I just sighed and said, "Yes.")