Chippendale. Lincoln. Currier & Ives. Washington.
Each of these names conjure connotation.
Can you tell I've been listening to "Antique Road Show" as I write this evening?
There's been a name serendipity going on in my life as people confess their real names amidst my thinking about my wife's name. There are secrets to her name that I won't reveal here, but she didn't like her given name. She said, "My Mom looked at me and said, bleah." She found her name unpoetic, without nuance, meaningless and even demeaning to her.
She was to be named Roxanne, after her Mom's grandmother, who was called Roxy, but my wife's father didn't like that name. He changed it to a popular comic strip character of the fifties.
When she became an adult, my wife adopted her middle name and used that for several decades, and then adopted another grandmother's name. So her family calls her one name and I call her another, along with those that met her over ten years ago, while people who met her in the last ten years know her by her chosen name. Checks, legal documents and some credit cards have her 'real name' while some credit cards have her middle name as her first name. She's never changed it 'legally', you see.
Name complications are normal in her heritage. I'm forever getting lost in nicknames, real names, given names and relationshps. Her folks and their parents and grandparents are all from southern West Virginia, moving there when it was western Virginia, back after the Revolutionary War. Her father's name was James Carl and he used that all his life, including his time in World War II. However, when he acquired his first passport for a trip to Switzerland in the late seventies, he discovered his real name was Carl.
My own name, Michael, didn't bother me until the last few years. I used to think, Michael, Hebrew for he who is like God. Yet the last few years, I've become less enamored of it as there are so many Michaels around. But I have no urge to change it to something else. I just resent the rest of those people for having my name.
Rachel Maddow talked about naming her dog today but her partner nixed a number of names. She said, a name will live up to what it is. One of Rachel's suggestions was Dewy but Rachel's partner thought that everyone would think of it as Dewy - the man who lost to Truman, and thus think the dog a loser.
I've name my cats Scheckter, Lady, and Quinn. I don't know what they live up to. I think of Scheckter and remember Jody and Tomas Scheckter, race car drivers. His nicknames, the Ginger Bear, Orange Boy, and his breed, Chubbosaurs Orange, speaks to his size and color. Lady was named before she took me over, but has earned the sobriquets of Me, Too, Me One, the Girl, the Little One, and her secret identity, The Gray Shadow.
Quinn, the Black Foot, brings to mind Quinn the Eskimo and Anthony Quinn, but Quinn doesn't much these images. He is Zen Quinn, with a peaceful, warrior priest quality in his aura, like the character David Carradine portrayed in "Kung Fu", Caine, an exiled Shaolin monk. You can imagine Quinn, with his graceful movements and stoic watchfulness, being a priest but ready to defend others. He speaks softly and meditates a lot.
So I don't know what the names mean. But in another coincidence, today's Lists Of Notes was about Alfred Hitchcock's movie, "Vertigo". Vertigo was based on a French crime novel. From the Lists:
"As production on the movie adaptation of the novel D'entre les morts began in 1957, behind the scenes a tug-of-war developed between its director, Alfred Hitchcock, and studio, Paramount, due to its title. Hitchcock wanted Vertigo. The studio repeatedly shot it down. They offered a selection of alternatives that included "A Matter of Fact," "Tonight is Ours" and "The Mad Carlotta." Hitchcock refused to budge. Weeks later, on October 24th of 1957, Paramount executive Sam Frey tried one last time to change Hitchcock's mind, and sent him the following list of suggestions."
Hitchcock didn't change his mind and "Vertigo" came to be but the list of suggestions came to be used in other movies.
Many societies take names as seriously as Hitchcock, although his movie's name is a title. Let's not get into titles. I could get lost talking about Dukes and Counts quite easily. Funny enough, I've wrestled with my own novel and story names or titles quite a bit until the name strikes me as 'right'. Sometimes they gnaw at me and creep through my dreams, only to spring out as known and final as I'm talking to someone else or doing something else.
Strangely enough, I have three nephews who ended up with my name, Michael. Their mothers like the name.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com