What’s In A Name?
This week is a big deal. In forty-nine and a half states, the focus of the country is on the Electoral College and the war over votes and counts and delegates.
And let’s hope that’s the only war that breaks out this week.
January 6 is the date that Congress will tie itself in knots over the presidential election results and who knows how long that will ramble through the week, the month, the year.
In that last half of an aforementioned state – in south Louisiana, to be precise – it’s the week that would historically kick off the Carnival season. It’s the 12th Night, the Epiphany, the official beginning of Mardi Gras.
My youngest son James turns 18 this Jan. 6. Being born on the first official day of Mardi Gras, I thought it appropriate – of not obligatory – to name him Rex. But having only a 35-percent voting share concerning decisions in my marriage and household, his name is James instead. Which is fine, it’s an old family name through several generations of my family.
And I’m guessing he’s grateful for the veto.
But sometimes to smite my ex-wife, I would call him King James to note the occasion of his birth. Get it? (Is that passive aggressive? I’ve never quite understood the definition of that term.)
Then again, I wanted to name his older sister Prytania and his older brother Walker, for reasons too long and detailed to get into here. (Hint: One had to do with the street where we met and the other with the rock opera Tommy, by the Who, in which I was performing at the time.)
Like I said, long story.
My Ex, she said she didn’t want her kids names to be stories. She wanted them to be names. Which is reasonable. Unless you’ve spent your entire career telling stories.
But she had a point. Prytania, Walker and Rex sound like deeply flawed alcoholic characters in a Tennessee Williams play, closeted, drinking gin on a fading plantation banquette, arguing about inheritances and draped in too much Seersucker. So their names are Katherine and Jack.
But I get it. I mean, it’s not as bad as that Johnny Cash song, “A Boy Named Sue” but still, I get it.
I’ve always been smitten by the names of Southern writers with exotic names – those with two last names as their whole name. In fact, I was often a little jealous. The name Chris Rose, you have to admit, is a little fey.
But over the years I worked at the Times-Picayune newspaper with guys named Coleman Warner, Tyler Bridges, Lovell Beaulieu, Angus Lind, Lolis Elie, and so many more.
Those are real writers’ names. The kind of folks who end up at the New York Times or writing great novels. Flannery O’Connor, anyone? Carson McCullers? Truman Capote?
And Chris Rose.
Which one of these is not like the other?
I also worked at the paper with a guy named Edgar Allen Poe, but that’s a whole ‘nuther story.
So that’s my literary insecurity. But I made a good run. And at least my parents didn’t name me Sue or Prytania.
That would have sucked.