Sometimes I allow myself to click on clickbait when I need a quick smile. The topic in one instance was, “What is your Superhero Name?” The name is the answer to, “What is your second favorite color and what is your favorite beverage?” That day’s response was “Green Coffee”.
The silly, little game reminded me of times when I contemplated a name change for real. My first name and surname are both very common and somewhat generic. While I never seriously considered changing my surname, plenty of idle moments were spent trying on various first and middle names. In the end, I decided not to change my name. Instead, I went along with what my pals called me–Jay Jay (J.J. are my initials).
This kept everybody happy. My family felt relieved; my friends kept calling me by my nickname; and I was happy to adopt initials as my name because it sounds pleasant to the ear. It’s also similar to the call of my favorite bird–the blue jay. As time went by, I dropped the one of the Jays and now go by only one of them. It was a slow and easy evolution. Even most of my family uses it to address me.
During the sophomore year of high school, some of the jocks thought it would be amusing to insult my lack of athletic ability with the taunt, “Jimmy Jet”. I did my best not to show my hurt and dislike of the name, but sometimes their chants brought me to the edge.
One day, the physical education teacher pulled me aside to give me advise. Basically, he recommended that I “own” the name and be proud of it. After all “Jimmy Jet” is not a bad name, in fact, it’s kind of catchy. Eventually, I took the teacher’s advise to heart and adopted it as an alternative nickname.
Even though there was no Hollywood ending to the story, adopting the nickname changed my attitude and disarmed the bullying jocks. When the jocks shouted “Jimmy Jet”, I’d just smile at them and go about my business. The name felt so positive that I even used it throughout my college years.
I’ve encountered a few other people who are known by different people by different names. Their immediate family calls them by their given birth names; their coworkers use a suitable nickname; and close friends have other nicknames for them.
What is the deal about parents who name their children with awkward or just plain terrible names? Why would the parents do such a nasty thing to an innocent baby? A flippant name might cause deep psychic harm to a person.
Do you remember the old Johnny Cash song “A Boy Named Sue”? The fictitious character was so scarred that he sought out revenge. After finding the father who abandoned him and left the legacy of the name, Sue makes peace with his father after a physical fight, the father says the name was given as an act of love. The father said that the ridicule of Sue’s peers would cause the kid to become tough or die trying. The song ends with Sue’s vow to name his own son “Bill or George, anything but Sue”.
Have you pondered your own name? Would you or have you changed your name?