February 02, 2006

What's in a Name?

My stepmother postulates that no one is ever entirely happy with his/her first name. Discuss.

Posted by Attila Girl at February 2, 2006 11:00 AM | TrackBack

Richard: Rick: Rich: Richie: Ricky: Dick: Dicky

I love my first name. Sorry.

Posted by: Deep Thought at February 2, 2006 11:26 AM

I have no problem with my first name. It's what other people try to do with it that I have issues with.

James is *NOT* Jim. Nor Jimmy, Jim-Bob, Jimbo, Jimmy-Bob-a-wacka-wacka nor any other permutation or bastardization.

It is James. Don't call me Jim--I'm not "Jim". Deal!


My boss goes by Charlie. He seems uncomfortable with Charles. However he has on numerous occasions introduced me as Jim. I have yet to work the nerve to refer to him as Charles to the same people, following this mis-introduction.

Posted by: Desert Cat at February 2, 2006 11:46 AM

Grandfather was Jack. Dad was Jack Jr. I'm Jack the third. You want to know how many different ways you're name can be screwed up,... LOTS.

The most frustrating parts are;
People comming up to me and saying, "You're Jack's boy,... whats your name".

And people calling me Jackie to differentiate me from my father (he is deceased.)

As I always say to those people, "My mother, sisters, and lovers get to call me Jackie, which one are you?"

Posted by: Jack at February 2, 2006 11:54 AM

I always thought Jeff was kinda bland.

Posted by: beautifulatrocities at February 2, 2006 12:11 PM

I love my name, except when I was a kid they never had "Samantha" on socks or barrettes or any of those other cute personalized plastic things, as I think there were only four of us ever given that name in the entire decade of the 70s.

I do hate that it's popular now though. It was cool being unique, and I can't quite get past hearing someone else being called MY NAME.


You can have my middle name, though, Yuck.

Posted by: caltechgirl at February 2, 2006 12:23 PM

It's a pet peeve of mine that people like to take liberties with other people's names. I generally avoid abbreviating--or deviating from the version I'm given--unless I hear the person do it himself/herself.

I know a lot of Jimmy/James people--guys who use both of those--though in one case the father is Jimmy and the son is James, contrary to some people's expectations.

I like Jack for John, though I only know one man who avails himself of that option, and I certainly know a handful of guys named John. (And a couple Jonathans/Jons. And, dammit, the classic formulation that "Jonathan" is the Jewish version of the name is not correct: I've known a couple of gentile Jonathans. BTW, this is the version of the name I like, since it has a nickname available, which John doesn't, unless you count Jack.)

Jeff/Geoff is/are my favorite guy name. I knew a pair of them when I was 13 (a Geoff and a Jeff). Then someone by that name took me in when I was a homeless teenager, which I think sealed the deal. Now I know lots of Jeffs--online and off. This makes me happy, but it should be remembered that I'm weird.

My brother's first name is Tiger. We called him by his middle name (Allyn) for years, but in college he switched to his real name. Tiger is fine, since it can be shortened to "Tig" (and that's what I call him in direct address).

I despise the name Joy, and I should have ditched it years ago. And now I'm in my 40s and it's too late. It has a diphthong in it, and people always hear it as Julie. And it sounds too much like Joe or Jo. Or Joey. And it isn't quite one syllable, nor really two. I have to spell it for people when I say it, so they don't hear it at Julie or whatever.

I know a few parents who try to control what their kids' nicknames can be: like my friends whose son is named William, which they will allow to become Will--but never Bill. And my nephews: a Michael who can't be called Mike, and an Andrew who can't be called Andy or Drew. You just know that in high school, or in college, or in their first full-time jobs, all of those boys will take the forbidden nicknames.

Posted by: Attila Girl at February 2, 2006 01:41 PM

I've never really liked my real first name, believe you have seen it before, Joy. Tried to get people to use my middle name, which is william, never worked out. Sigh.

Posted by: William Teach at February 2, 2006 03:51 PM

DesertCat: Preach it, Brother!

I used to be in a situation where I could gently guide the misguided back to calling me James with this:

Jim is the boss. James is me.

Of course, for many years my dad would call me Pete, who was his partner. One of his brothers was also called Pete. And that never once bothered me. Call me Pete, and I'm OK with it. Call me Jim and I rip yah a new one...

Posted by: I R A Darth Aggie at February 2, 2006 04:05 PM

Your stepmother is on to something. I like my name just fine. I just need another set of people when growing up to interact with, if I ever get a "do-over"... I'd do just fine in a "last-man-on-earth" scenario.

Posted by: Darrell at February 2, 2006 04:20 PM

I have no problem with my name. I go by either Steve or Stephen.

I used to crew (sailing) for a guy who called me Jim. He would shout for Jim to trim the jib, and since trimming the jib was my job, I just did it.

I let it go for a couple of months because it sort of amused me.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at February 2, 2006 04:24 PM

Just don't call me late for supper!

Posted by: olddawg at February 2, 2006 07:30 PM

I don't mind it too much when my mother calls me by my aunt's name. When she called me by her dog's name once, I drew a line.

Posted by: Attila Girl at February 2, 2006 11:20 PM

I always thought Jeff was kinda bland.

Me too, hence the spelling "Xrlq." Apparently that runs in the family. I recently learned that my great grandfather, after whom I was named, had an even more inane spelling of his name (H-A-R-R-Y).

Posted by: Xrlq at February 3, 2006 06:54 AM

My grandparents named their boys Don and Jerry. Not Donald and Jerome/Gerald, but Don and Jerry.

Totally unclear on the concept.

I don't understand you Jeffs: if you're bored, can't you go by Jeffrey?

Posted by: Attila Girl at February 3, 2006 08:12 AM

Too funny!!!!!!!

I can relate to Desert Cat with the name James. I didn’t know anyone else, let alone men, were fussy about their names, I thought it was only me.

My name is Rebecca, and if people are too lazy to pronounce three syllables…Becca will do. HOWEVER, anyone calling me Becky dies!

Ever introduce yourself to someone and they immediately ask what to call you? Uh, Rebecca!

BTW My husbands name is James, goes by Jim…one person can call him Jimmy and it ain’t me! He calls me Becs. I love it when I hear him call me that, anyone else….that’s iffy!

Posted by: Rebecca at February 3, 2006 08:23 AM

That's why I have only one name. Just don't call me "Tilly."

Use Attila; it works much better than Joy, not that I've ever tried that one.

Posted by: Attila (Pillage Idiot) at February 3, 2006 10:08 AM

My first name has always bothered me a little, although most people seem to think it's fine. I suspect this might have something to do with shaky self-image, since most of us identify so closely with our given names.

I totally agree with James about the nickname issue. Unless we are actually sleeping together, you are not invited to bestow a nickname on me.

Posted by: utron at February 3, 2006 12:21 PM

I always thought my first name was kind of boring. But I never felt any particular antipathy toward it. Its reputed translation goes well with my middle and last names though, in a funny way.

It doesn't really have any common nicknames. Rarely, Kay or Kat or Kathy. I don't mind those.

For some reason, several different groups of people - in different circumstances, never met, totally independently - have given me the nickname of George. Imagine my happiness one day when I sat down and counted all the wonderful women writers who penned under *George!*

When meeting someone new, or after knowing them a short time, I often ask what name they prefer being called. Sometimes it's because someone else introduced them and I sensed they didn't like that version. Usually they politely tell me their preference - and sometimes it's different than what they themselves first used. Odd.

Only a couple of times has someone been a bit sarcastic and said, --*...*-- whatever they first told me their name was. I don't mind. I'd rather err on the side of politely verifying how they want to be called. Also, I like to be nosy, and see what they say about how they like their first name and/or nicknames. Also, I was raised like this: *The only "dumb" question is the one you're too afraid to ask.*

Now: Joy? There's a name I've always been in some awe of. Partly because it's a word I'm particularly fond of, and like to use as a very special sort of word. You may not notice that, because using a word that's the same as the name of the person I'm talking to makes me want to edit it out.

But it always made me think this: I cannot imaging someone loving and wanting me so much that when I was born, they called me, Joy.

Hearing you hated it astonished me.

I've always wanted to ask you, is there a story behind how you got named Joy?

Posted by: k at February 3, 2006 06:32 PM

"Unless we are actually sleeping together, you are not invited to bestow a nickname on me."

Even she can call me a lot of things, but "Jim" is not among them.

I always liked the name Joy. My sister is named Joy.

Posted by: Desert Cat at February 3, 2006 06:36 PM

Hm. It might be that I have no objectivity about it whatsoever.

Of course, it's worth noting that I do like the word, and one of the things that annoys me about the name is the fact that I feel inhibited about using the word because . . . it's my name.

My mother has always claimed that she wanted to call me "Robin Gay" instead of "Joy MaryMay" (the double middle name was their Solomon-like solution to the problem of my having two grandmothers). I like the name Robin because it's gender-neutral, so there's a certain mystery about one's sex as a writer until one announces it. Of course, I would have had to either bury the middle name or change it during the Sensuous But Strangely Intolerant Seventies. That wouldn't have survived junior high.

I do know a Margaret who won't accept any shortening of the name, which seems harsh when you've got a three-syllable one. Of course, I love long names: Rebecca/Becca is nice. I'm partial to the names of female monarchs: Catherine/Katherine is cool. Elizabeth is terrific.

Those last two offer about five million nicknames each.

Posted by: Attila Girl at February 3, 2006 06:58 PM

And here, the closest I can come is as a pretender.

Posted by: k at February 3, 2006 10:49 PM

i don't mind my name, it's just that every other girl born in the mid seventies has it. (i'm currently in an oper with five other jennifers, i kid you not) Jennifer. i use the whole thing. my family calls me fer. i despise jenny. i think mainly because that's what so many of my fellow jennifers switched to in junior high, the goofs.

Posted by: maggie katzen at February 4, 2006 10:07 AM

I don't mind "Jenny," but none of my Jennifer friends use it. And it is a diminutive, with a capital "d." Some insist on the full three syllables, and another couple of 'em use "Jen."

Posted by: Attila Girl at February 4, 2006 11:02 AM

Does this mean your dad chose *Joy*?

Posted by: k at February 5, 2006 10:05 AM

Neither one of them will cop to it. Apparently, it just floated down from the sky in the form of pre-arranged ink that landed on my birth certificate with no human intervention whatsoever.

(But, yes: my father is the logical suspect.)

Posted by: Attila Girl at February 5, 2006 10:25 AM

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