I am fascinated by names. What they mean, where they originate, how they look written down, how they sound in combination with other names. Just love 'em.
As I believe I've mentioned here before, I used to have a book called, "What Not to Name the Baby". It was intended to be amusing, and it was, (under meaning of names: "David - is a 6 year old boy who bites. Sam - Nothing much could be wrong with anyone named Sam") but it was the theory that is posed that fascinated me the most. The authors proposed the idea that people become their names. Interesting.
So the fact that my real name, "Sandra" which is a derivation of the name, Alexandra which is the female version of Alexander (of Greek origin) means: Helper to Mankind kind of makes sense. Nearly very job I've ever held was one where I was fortunate enough to help people in some way and that was one of the parts about the job that I enjoyed the most. Of course I'm not working for pay now, but as a volunteer I teach people who to speak, read and write English. Still helping!
I wonder if I was named something else, would I have become a different person? Even the name I go by, "Sam" which means Listener is interesting to me as the last paying job I ever held, which was also my favourite job, was working in Audiology! Hah! Interesting eh?
I am not certain that people put enough thought into the names they choose for their children. Everyone I've ever known who had an unusual spelling for their name, hated it. Not the name itself maybe, but the fact that they have to spell it to Everyone, Everywhere, All of the Time! One of the most unique spelling I ever saw for a 'normal' name was: M'sh'l. I had to say it out loud to figure it out. Michelle! Ok that is just crazy. I won't even apologize for saying so. That poor child has now been consigned to correcting everyone everywhere she goes for her entire life. She will probably just sigh sometimes and allow it to be spelled wrong.
Sometimes I suppose it's no huge deal. But these are the folks who smile as they introduce themselves as,Suzi with an "i" or Steven with a "v" and they do it automatically, every time. Then the rest of us are left to having to remember which Steven is Stephen and which Suzi is Suzy or never EVER writing their names, ever!
Names are cyclical, that is there is an ebb and flow to the popularity of any name. Grace for example was a hugely popular name 1900 through the 1920's which is a nice long run. And then it fell out of favour and unless a person was named after their grandmother, you just didn't hear the name. It was old fashioned, it was odd, it was, well, not cool. Then suddenly, it became popular again and classrooms everywhere became littered with little Grace's.
Mary was a hugely popular name for a VERY long time. I remember going to primary school with a lot of Mary's, usually combined with another name, i.e. Mary Ann, Mary Francis, Mary Catherine. I haven't heard or even read of anyone named Mary in a long time. It must be going to come back into popularity in a generation or so.
In Texas, I knew a lot of people, both male and female who went by both their first and middle names. Jim Bob and Billy Joe are real people. I am not certain why it was a common thing there but it certainly was. When I lived in St. Louis, everyone's middle name was a deep dark secret for some reason. Nobody ever told anyone their middle name and if someone, somehow found out, it was shocking and embarrassing. Well not to me, I don't care. Never did care. Never will care. But it was the way the things were there. To be fair there were a lot of horrible middle names when I lived there. Not certain what that was about. Maybe family names?
Most families have a name or two that they try to move forward generation to generation. In my Mother's family there is almost always a male with the name, Raymond, somewhere along the line, whether it's a first or middle name. I like the name just fine. But none of my boys are carrying it with them. I'm fairly certain that at least one cousin has taken care of that for me.
I've known a lot of "The thirds". You know, not the senior, not the junior, but the next one, somebody somebody the third. I've never known a 4th though. In fact the two, "The Thirds" that I knew well to ask if their would be a "The fourth" both told me, without hesitation, "Not just no, but Hell no". Being a number is a bit of a burden I'm assuming. Think about it, let's say the name is John Francis Doe. Okey the first one, Senior probably went by John. The second one, junior, to avoid confusion father to son, might have gone by Frank, the diminutive of Francis. What does "The Third" go by so that when someone calls him, gets the right one?Johnny maybe. And Johnny is fine for a little boy, but few adult males can pull off the name "Johnny" successfully. And even if you did, what on earth would you call "The fourth"? It's a dilemma I never had to solve, thank goodness.
Some parents want their child to stand out by giving them a very unusual name. There was a lot of that going on in the 60's and 70's. Far too many "Moonbeams" and "Sunflowers" happening then. Those are names that are easily categorized. I know a number of children of that era who, upon reaching adulthood, immediately went to court and changed their names legally. I guess it's hard to be taken seriously as a judge or a senator when your name is Strawberry Love Jones.
I have this wonderful book, "Remarkable Names of Real People". Someone went too the trouble of compiling some of those most unusual names that actual people carried with them throughout their lives, like the sisters, Ima and Ura Hogg. Real people folks. Katz Meow. Also real. Hello Baby Darling. Seriously? Appendicitis Jackson and their siblings, Laryngitis, Menengitis, Peritonitis and Tonsillitis Jackson. What where those parents thinking? Were they thinking? Cigar Stubbs. Okay that's just cruel. Luscious Pea. What? Shanda Lear. Now you are just being ridiculous.
I know a lot of people who do not like their names. In fact, I probably know more people who don't like their names then those who do. Other people don't feel one way or the other about their names. It just is their name, no opinion whatsoever about it. But in my entire life, I have known one ,and only one, person who loved her name. She adored it. Her name was Celestine. And she didn't shorten it one bit. Her name was Celestine and she was, by God, called, Celestine by everyone who knew her. I loved how she loved her name and obviously, I never forgot it.
In college, we females were encouraged to have an alternate name, a name that we could throw out without deep thought that wasn't our real name to protect ourselves a little bit in the scary world. For instance, going to a party with a lot of people we didn't know well, or going to a dance club or a bar. Lots of strangers. Lots of strangers who have been partying and maybe aren't behaving as well as their Mama's taught them. We girls gave a lot of thought about our "alter ego" names. We suggested names for each other. It's hard to have lived with a particular name for a couple of decades and then suddenly try to be another name. The name that was suggested for me was, Sarah. It's a pretty name. I even like it. It means, Princess. Problem is, I've never been a Princess-type girl. Maybe that's why it never suited. I just couldn't even pretend to be Sarah. I'm just Sam.
Sam I am, I am Sam, I do not like Green Eggs and Ham. Yup that'll do me just fine.
But I do occasionally wonder, if I had been given a different name and ended up with a different nickname, would I have turned out to be a completely different person? Perhaps in a parallel universe, there is a "me" named Sarah who is, indeed a Princess. Way Cool.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.