I’m working on a project with a former client. When we were talking on the phone yesterday morning, her dog started to bark. I asked her to send me some pictures of him, which she did. Very cute! I may have to steal him. I’ve told her already. So I decided to send her some pictures of my cats.
It’s no secret. Animal lovers are all a bit crazy. Don’t look so surprised. I’m not telling you something you don’t already know.
Okay. So we exchanged pet photos. Then she asked me how I picked their names. It was an interesting question; and it got me thinking.
I have never liked my name. Frances. Yes, my legal name is Frances. Ugh! But everyone has always called me Fransi, although the spelling has changed. Originally it was Francy. Or was it Francie? I can’t remember now. It was a long time ago.
All I know is, for as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to change it. The first time I was maybe ten or twelve years old. Back then I thought I wanted to be an artist. And I remember telling my aunt, I didn’t want to sign my canvasses with my name. Especially not with Frances. I complained it was a stuffy, boring, uncreative name. Certainly not suitable for an artist.
Sensing, correctly, I wouldn’t give up on it easily, she suggested a spelling change. To Fransi. A great negotiator, she managed to convince me, at the time, it would look terrific scrawled on the bottom of a canvas. My desire to be a female Cezanne, or Degas, or Modigliani was relatively short-lived. So the whole name change drama quickly became a non-event. Much to the relief of my aunt. And my parents.
But deep down, under the surface, it’s never gone away. Because here I am, kvetching about it, all these many years later.
And you know what? If we took a poll right now, I’ll bet a huge number of folks are right there with me. Not really liking their names. Not really thinking they suit them. And if you think about it logically, it makes perfect sense.
In most cases, names are picked out before we’re even born. The minute the little stick turns blue (or the rabbit dies, depending on how old you are), most prospective moms and dads are starting to think about baby names. “This if it’s a boy. That if it’s a girl”. So think about it. How suitable can a name be, when you haven’t even met the child yet? You don’t know what kind of personality this little, tiny blip is going to turn out to have. Or what he or she will grow up to be.
Say you give your son a really macho name, like Butch. Or Buzz. Or Duke. Or Vinnie. And then little Buzz has no interest in sports and decides he wants to become a violinist, or a classical pianist, instead of a quarterback like you were hoping for. What then? It’s the same with girls. What if dear, sweet Bunny or Cookie or DeeDee dreams of becoming a criminal attorney? Or a Supreme Court Judge.
Right. Their parents didn’t think that far ahead, when they were going through all those baby naming books.
Everything’s fine when the little darlings are swaddled in blankets, sucking their thumbs, fast asleep in their cradles. But when they’re all grown up and trying to make their way in the world, life’s not so simple.
Yeah. Show me a criminal who’s going to want to be defended by a Bunny. Or a Cookie. The famed pianist, Van Cliburn just passed away. How far do you think he’d have gotten with a name like Buzz? Or Butch? Can’t you just see it now? The New York Philharmonic, featuring Butch on the Steinway. I don’t think so.
Name picking is serious stuff. I don’t think we pay enough attention to it.
Frankly, I don’t think we should be named until we’ve had a chance to develop a bit of a personality. To give our parents at least an indication of what we’ll be like when we grow up. So let’s try something.
You’re getting to know me pretty well, through my blog. You have a pretty good idea of ‘who’ I am. What I’m like. So what would you name me? What’s the name you think suits me to a ‘T’?
No, you cannot choose Fransi or Frances.