I bet this post creates some hateful angst. Just remember it is tongue in cheek. We were all given a name at birth, some are better than others. Apologies to all Kelvins, Colins, Denises and Craigs out there, but some names evoke an innate kind of response, according to the sort of mental and social conditioning you have received through knowing others of that name. Kelvins and Colins make me think of beige knitted cardigans, while Denise is just downright prissy and namby pamby. I was always glad that my mother gave me the name Karen Theresa. She also passed on thick ankles and a duck-like walk which was very prevalent in her genetic makeup as it also repeated itself in subsequent births. Anyway. I like my name. Even the various derivatives – Hatch (don’t ask me where that came from) and Carrot Trees (Karen Theresa, go figure!). My eldest sister Rosemary was called Meme, and my other older sister Sue was called Kitty Bluit. My little sister Deb was called Midge.
Now the cosiness and familiarity of these names was part of our family ritual. Most families have these rituals. My father, Brian Patrick was renamed Peter and was called that till the day he died. Mum, whose real name was Ada Rose (Ada, Grandma? What were you thinking?). She was alternatively known as Rosie.
Names evolve usually as a derivative of the real name, or because of a physical resemblance to something or someone. My daughter Hannah looked like a little chicken when she pouted her lips as a baby. Her dad called her Chookie as a result. Also his ‘little ray of sunshine’. I still call her Chookie to this day, and when she is her usual efficient multi-skilling self, I call her Super Chook. My son Benjamin was known as Benj, Benjie (he hates that) and Beej. His friends call him Jonesy, and I have been recognised by some of his peers as Jonesie’s mother. My grandson Noah is known alternatively as Noki (this happens when you text Noah in a text message), Noki poki or the Nokster.
I have even extended it to my cat. Her name is Grace Jones (and no, she is not black nor a good singer) but I call her – wait for it, cheesy and all, “The Princess of the Dawn”. This is because she comes in and wakes me early to put food in her bowl.
Usually created from affection, even the name ‘bitch’ can be O.K. if said by a loved friend who is feeling put out because you saw the bargain Oroton bag at the garage sale before her. We can grow into our names. Surnames may change according to marital status, but Christian names are usually something we keep forever. Some may change their perfectly ordinary name. Christine’s have become Christina’s and other Karens have evolved into Karyns. Names hold us together, they identify us, they are legal collateral, and they can be said ways which are chastising or loving. Any name, said in a low, urgent French accent is compelling. We can also grow out of them. We embellish them with double barrelled surnames to impress, we shorten them when necessary. Names define us.
So, all of you beige cardiganned Kelvins and Colins out there, prove me wrong. Tell me that really you are lead singers in a garage band or that you snort cocaine chopped with a gold Amex card from golden toilet cisterns through rolled up one hundred dollar notes. Are you your name, or is your name you?