What’s in a Name? A Tale of Two H’s
When I was pregnant with the-boy-who-would-be-H, we did what expectant parents do: we made a list of baby names. We put each name to the test by playing a demented role-playing game in which we, acting as the now grown child, introduced ourselves and our occupation. Like so:
Joe Schmoe, rock star.
Joe Schmoe, rocket scientist.
Joe Schmoe, I live in my mom’s basement.
Basically, we wanted a name that worked with a range of occupations.
Part two of our test was to think of every famous, infamous, or otherwise notable person with the same name. According to my husband, you have to be careful in this name-sharing business. Some names are off limits, no matter how twisted the limit-setting logic may be.
Our name list was divided into family names, and, well, other names. Parker was high on my list of non-family names. Mark’s reaction was an immediate and definite no.
Because. Parker Stevenson? The Hardy Boy who married Kirstie Alley? We don’t want kids to make fun of him.
First of all, our last name is Stevens. No ‘on.’
But more importantly, I am dying to meet the kid our son’s age with a working knowledge of Parker Stevenson, Kirstie Alley, and The Hardy Boys. I think I’d kind of love that kid, even though he’s clearly a weirdo.
We ultimately decided to choose from family names, thus ending the Parker Debates of 2006.
Our oldest son’s name passed our tests, but it’s not one you hear every day. It’s definitely not ever on the license plates and mugs at hotel gift shops (and yes, this has been an issue, one I’m sure will come up at some future visit with the therapist). But then, over Christmas break, our son met (“air quotes” met, not “in person” met) a name-twin who had an impact.
We were watching an old television show – one of my childhood favorites – and surprisingly, my kids were mesmerized. My H, in particular, was agog when he saw his own name appear in the credits.
It says… Wait, that says… Someone has my name! That guy!
So we are related!
Do we know him, though? We must know him.
This line of questioning continued, with only dubious acceptance that – as far as I know – we are not related to this other H. But from then on, any time the elder H was on the screen, the younger version would provide running commentary, complete with mimicking what he saw on screen.
There I am, on the screen. I’m dancing! Now I’m singing! Wow, I had no idea I could do that. I am fuuuuunnnny.
I’m not sure my H understands how names work, exactly. Or how TV works. At one point I asked him if there are any kids at school who share names with other kids.
Oh, lots, Mom. There is more than one Ashlyn and two Lukes, and, oh, a lot of other names, too.
Are those kids all related? Or are any of them the same people?
Mom, you are crazy. No, they just have the same first name! Like me and the guy on TV. Hold on, I’m pretending to be an Army man on TV right now. See? Man, am I funny.
And I’m the crazy one.
I get the thrill, though. I have a very clear memory of someone (Hmmm. Who was that? Okay, it’s not that clear a memory) on television calling another character Missy, as in, Listen up, little missy. I heard that often on TV, and every time I got a jolt of excitement, like they were talking to me. Then there was Missy Gold. I loved her purely because we shared a name. Ah, Benson.
I get why one H would feel a kinship with another, no matter that they aren’t even of the same generation. I especially love that he has a positive connection with the name, one more tangible at this point than family stories. In time the family stories will resonate, and I’m sure he’ll appreciate his name. But for now, it’s fun to watch that click happen, the click that says my name is something to live up to, something to feel proud of.
:: How do you feel about your name?
:: If you’re a blogger, do you use real names when writing about your kids? I do not (obviously), but it’s not necessarily a privacy thing. It’s more of a Google thing – I just don’t want their friends to be able to easily Google-up every childhood story about my kids. I debated using the real name here. In fact, really wrestled with it, but ultimately decided the story was the same, whether the name was H or Joe Schmoe or Franklin D. Rooselvelt.