Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Time to drop a few names

On Sunday, as I entered our family room, I was greeted by the agitated voices of people from New Jersey—cries, screams, just general confrontational noise on the television. I asked my teenager what she was watching.

"It's Jersey Shore. They talk like this all the time. Especially that guy right there. He's The Situation."

"What do you mean he's the situation?"

"I mean, that's his name: The Situation." Then she drifted back to her show, and I felt fortunate for having received any information at all. I retreated to another area of the house, fearing for my country's future.

We're all named at birth; I feel quite confident in stating that most of us are bestowed with first, middle and last names. From that point forward, however, our names lengthen, shorten and morph into endless permutations.

For example, many athletes' names have been infused with potent, intimidating nouns, like Duane "The Rock" Johnson, Roger "The Rocket" Clemens or Allen "The Answer" Iverson. I'm not sure about Johnson or Iverson, but Clemens has already become more of a space vehicle and less of a rocket. Other guys have tacked adjectives onto their names, such as "Marvelous" Marvin Hagler or "Broadway" Joe Namath. If I weren't familiar with those two guys, I might think they sang show tunes during gay bingo.

Some of us are named one thing, but are called something different. My mom's name was Margaret, but she went by "Peggy"—Irish thing. "Chuck" is always short for Charles and "Hank" can be a derivation of Henry. "Ike" is a nice nickname for Dwight, and "I like Ike" sounds a lot less ambiguous than "Dwight is wight."

There's a small subset of folks, mostly guys, who use their first initial along with their middle and last names, like F. Lee Bailey, G. Gorden Liddy or M. Night Shyamalan, or those who use their first names with their middle initials, like Michael J. Fox or Samuel L. Jackson. Why? Is M. Night Shyamalan afraid someone will confuse him with M. Dusk Shyamalan? Sorry, but it seems a little pretentious to me.

The convicted murderers have no choice. Their entire names are always used: Lee Harvey Oswald, James Earl Ray, John Wayne Gacy. If you ever see a picture of your cousin Mike in the newspaper and the caption lists his entire name, you might want to call your aunt and make sure she's okay.

Lastly is a group of people whose first and last names are abbreviated, most famously Alex Rodriguez's transformation to "A-Rod." Great caution must be exercised in choosing this option for your own name, since it did not work at all well for Alan Holman, Frank Bombardi or William Shatner's brother, Isaac.

No comments :

Post a Comment