Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What's in a name?


Say your first name aloud. Repeat it until it starts sounding strange.

For me it doesn’t take long. Around the third time, I begin to say it mockingly.

“Steven, Steven, Steven.”

If I think about it, Steven sounds like the appropriate name for an uppity receptionist at a downtown law firm, more concerned with the company on his boss’ business card than his own role.

The abbreviated version isn’t much better. Steve, to me, is the guy who wears a different windbreaker vest every day, and shakes your hand a little too hard and a little too often.

I’m horribly inconsistent with choosing which name version I introduce myself with:

Job interview – Steven
Friend’s friend – Steve
Girl – Steven
Family member – Steve
Call in radio show – Steven
Forwarded email – Steve
Restaurant hostess – Steven
Fightclub – Steve

As you can see, it’s a lot to remember. Sometimes I wonder if anyone’s first name is their first choice.

In the 13th century people started a practice known as “rhyming nicknames.” That’s how you get Ted for Edward, Bill from William, and Bob from Robert. Those are pretty common names. These people are so dissatisfied with their name, that they abandon the first letter altogether.

When that isn't enough, there is always the middle name, which is pretty much a backup plan. I’m confident that this is why it was invented (also useful for creating embarrassing initials … mine are S.A.C.). If you find your first name so unacceptable that you can’t derive a different version from just one to two of the letters, you’re granted an entirely different set.

If you're in the public arena, like actors, radio personalities and strippers, you probably use a stage name.

I’m not sure of a solution. I don’t particularly like the sound of my social security number. And if we waited until adulthood to choose our name I wouldn't know what to choose, except for purposes of self amusement.

So I guess I'll just have to settle for the name I have. And next time someone tells me, "you don't look like a Steven," I'll be sure to return the favor.

1 comment:

Lexi said...

Hey friend, there's a lot in a name. I was named Rita after my grandmother, but growing up my family called me by my middle name, Alexis. When I walked into kindergarten for the first time the teacher introduced me to the class as Rita and I looked around wondering who the hell she was talking about. As far as I knew my name was Alexis and my grandmother was granny. I knew no Rita. The confusion that ensued from being called the wrong name all day really upset me so my sweet mom drove me to the courthouse after school to officially change my name to Alexis Rita. I'm super grateful for this because who wants to be named Rita, right! These days when I'm out and about and a guy I'm not interested in asks for my name, I smile and say Rita and hope it will secretly scare them away. I sort of use it as my ugly name :)