Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Can you call me Jack?

I hate my first name, my middle, and my last. One could've been different. When I entered kindergarten, my parents asked me if I still wanted to go by "Jack." Never having heard-- this being a few decades ago-- any peers with this rather retro moniker to my five-year-old ears, I declined and opted for the plain form, along with what seems from my generation many more classmates, the last to make "John" a popular boy's name.

I've seen a few Facebook quiz results from peers too; in each of them surveying their posse of Friends, "John" invariably tops the list of most common first name. But, perhaps "Dylan" or "Emily" will displace this if my teenaged sons took the quiz. I don't think I've met one "John" in their cohort, and after a quarter-century of teaching, that name has been rather rare, for what would be now an entire generation before my spawn and their comrades with often bewilderingly bestowed names that do not hearken back as we once had to do to a long stream of other Johns, Joes, and Jims in my family tree (along with a lot of Marys and Margarets this being Irish Catholic). This pattern repeats, I found out in adulthood, with my own birth-family tree also; my name given at birth I only discovered at 22 and verified at 44. Too late to go back to that, but the very uncommonness of my surname proved a blessing, for with that information I was eventually able to find my birth-mother, with a name about as uncommon as my adoptive mother's surname which is my middle name.

The old idea that duty to the departed, in my case my mom's only brother who died in the invasion of Saipan in WWII, directed the grieving survivors to name the child in honor, can be found I suppose in most cultures. Jews still pick if not the name than the initial letter often in selecting their offspring's names in this fashion. At least this would avoid the numbing repetition in my own family, birth- as adopted, of the same few names over and over. These compounded in my adoptive surname which by its utter stereotypical common nature makes my common first name all the more numbing. One Friend of mine on FB has three of her pals, me included, with the same first and last name. Hang out with aging Irish and this is not difficult.

What about the initial? That's worse, as my mother picked her maiden name, as they used to delicately call it, as my middle name to differentiate me. This worked, but unfortunately neither she nor my dad understood that this doomed me, as I could not nickname a middle name from a surname, and I was forced as I saw it into using my dull first name to couple my dull surname. So, I was really stuck, although my assumption of the initial as differentiation happened when I enrolled at my (theoretically) Catholic college to find two other students my year shared my first and last name.

Of course, I should have stuck all along with "Jack." Although at my advanced age I don't expect I can change onomastic horses mid-life mid-stream. I like the snappy nature of it; the roguish quality. The baseball stadium in San Diego was named Jack + my/our surname after its local sports journalist, until the corporate trend to call it in the dot.com boom Qualcomm and now, horribly, Petco Park, took precedence. And, as a Dodger fan, how could I bear a name that related to our hated southerly rivals? Still, it's better than Brooklyn as a name to be summoned by if I must out of my reveries. I read this a few minutes ago when logging on, from a British study:
If you named your baby Brooklyn, he already packs a mean street rep. Of course, the same would be true if his name was Jack or Kyle.

Certain names put teachers on edge, according to a survey by Bounty, a British pregnancy and parenting club.

The 3,000 British teachers surveyed by Bounty said names can peg kids as potential troublemakers. Boys named Brooklyn, Jack, Kyle, Liam and Jake reportedly strike fear in the hearts of educators, as do girls named Chelsea, Aliesha, Brooke, Demi, Jessica, Casey and Crystal.
Image: some TV show I never heard of.

1 comment:

Blaiser said...

I had the good fortune to work with a kid named Brooklyn this summer. She had excellent taste in music, at age 11 or 12, and she wasn't a problem at all -- of course she wasn't a he.

A kid named Briar proved to need a little more motivating, although in the end, he was super.

It was a kid named Nakoda, however, who was the biggest handful, but underneath it all, he was still a good kid--just in need of an occasional short leash.

I sometimes beware certain spellings of names. Anyone who ends in an 'i' usually raises my eyebrow. Hyphenated people make me suspicious, too.