Caffeine today: Only two coffees! And unsurprisingly I have a headache. I know water is much healthier but it doesn’t wake me up in the afternoons. God damn you water!
Well hello! Today’s post is lightly pensive so grab a cuppa, or a wine, or whatever tickles your fancy and please bear with my train of thought…
So, as you know I write under a pseudonym and I chose “Bea” for obvious reasons. The names of my friends are also changed because they don’t want to be identified (not that they ever will, it’s safe to say I’m not national news). Initially my bestie was called “Maz” short for Marilyn and my sister was “Jenny” for no other reason than I like the names. However, they have both come back to me and requested a name change. “Maz” wants to be called “Daphne” – “It’s a Some Like It Hot thing, Bea” she told me and my sister is yet to get back to me with her pseudonym – hurry up woman! It’s not every day we get the opportunity to rename ourselves without involving Deed Poll and I can understand why “Maz” and “Jenny” have chosen to change their names in these circumstances. It’s just a bit of fun isn’t it.
Anyhoo, Daphne, as she will hence forth be known as and ? previously known as Jenny, request for a name change got me thinking about names, what they mean to us and if we could change our name for just a day what would it be?
Obviously our names are important but are they essential to our character? I’m not a psychologist or anyone other than a woman with a mediocre humanities degree and a bad back, but despite my lack of qualifications I put the hamster on the wheel and took to wondering about it. If I’m honest it did boggle my brain and very nearly bought on a headache but I persisted and my train of thought tickled over questions such as: if we changed our names for the day would we consciously or unconsciously take on a slightly different persona? For instance if I was a Holly for 24 hours would I be more fun-loving and carefree than if I were a Maureen? (who incidentally cooks a lot and is very nice but doesn’t giggle in the same vivacious way that Holly does).
However, names can sometimes work against us. My scientific evidence for this comes from witnessing playground bullying – poor “Smelly Shelly” who didn’t smell and poor “Ball Sack Jack” with the round head that looked nothing like a ball sack. Names can be a minefield and no matter how hard you try some little shit will figure out a way of turning it against you.
In addition to names that can be turned into nasty comedy rhymes, there are some unfortunates out there who are cursed with names that become urban myths. These are the people who have names that weren’t properly thought through by the parents, and then one day after a trip to the registry office hey presto! the world gets another equivalent of “Roger Thecabinboy” (why they didn’t call him Dave, George, Jeff, anything but Roger is beyond me). Roger then spends the rest of his life being sniggered about at school, work, the rugby club, the next town along, the next county and soon the whole country has heard of him, just because his parents were socially inept and/or stupid. He has to state “yes, that really is my name” every time he has a job interview and Roger eventually becomes a bitter adult who shouts a lot in meetings but still will not take that massive step, for whatever reason, of contacting Deed Poll and officially changing his name. Why not? I don’t know my hamster brain is not an athlete, it’s podgy and will only go so far on the wheel before it needs alcohol.
If you have children you will know the excitement and responsibility that comes with naming your child. Dan and I played out different scenarios and tried to attach cruel rhymes to every name we liked to ensure we didn’t invite idiots to make our kids’ life hell. Although we don’t have an awkward surname like “Thecabinboy” we found naming our kids fun but a serious and sometimes difficult business because we wanted to get it absolutely right. Being of a safe nature we decided to stick to fairly traditional names, there wasn’t going to be a “Coniferleafface”, “Mackerelkillshark” or “Cowbelldingaling” in our house, we’re just not brave enough, do not have any form of interesting cultural background to justify “different” names and we are not, nowhere near, galaxies away in fact from being “cool people”, we do not have the relaxed and savvy nature that will allow us to get away with blessing our kids with “cool” names. After Ben was born we took three days to name him; we wanted to make sure “Ben” suited him and the same went for Edi expect it took us three weeks to name her, we were stuck between Edith and Emma.
But let’s be honest at the end of the day it’s the parents’ choice so everyone else who offers their opinion can “do one”. Even Mr and Mrs Thecabinboy, we have to respect that Roger is their child and therefore it is their choice what they call him, even if it does prove they only have a peanut for brains between them. But some people, the thoughtless, nasal toned, self-righteous incredibly annoying people feel it’s within their rights to ask you what you are going to call your unborn child and then when you foolishly answer they raise eyebrows and say “that’s different isn’t it?” or “Very exotic, there won’t be another one of those in the playground will there!” (Deep breaths, they are not worth it… fuckwits).
As proven in the mythical tales of Roger some people are cursed by their name, but can some people be given the wrong name? I once worked with a lady who was often called Sarah when her name was actually Melanie, when she pointed out their mistake the other person would sometimes say “…but you look like a Sarah”. After she told me about this frequent strange happening I had to agree the name Sarah seemed to suit her more than Melanie. I don’t know why, I don’t know what a Sarah or a Melanie is supposed to look like, but in this case Melanie definitely had a sense that she was supposed to be a “Sarah”. It was quite strange and I wonder whether her parents had the two names lined up and after naming her Melanie they sometimes had a niggle at the back of their minds that they got it wrong. Perhaps we got it wrong with Edith, I’m 100% sure we didn’t, but perhaps people will instinctively see her as an Emma whether I like it or not (I don’t like it and if you do call her Emma you’re wrong!).
The whole name thing is interesting isn’t it? Your name sets the scene of you to other people and before they meet you your name conjures up images of the sort of person you might be. Obviously previous experiences will influence perceptions but whether we know it or not our name carries obvious and hidden connotations and messages, and if you’re like Roger your name could break your life at school and beyond. But can it add to your personality, can it give you power? Can it help you achieve? Can it make you a happier person if your parents get it right? Or does it mean bugger all?
My podgy hamster brain has now fallen off the wheel and is looking for a G&T.
Anyway, all the blabber above was my really, really long way of asking you: what you would call yourself if you had the chance to change your name for a day?