What’s In A Name?

William Shakespeare asked, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Oscar Wilde said, “Experience is the name we give our mistakes.”

Even old Teddy Roosevelt got in on the philosophizing when he said, “Never throughout history has a man who has lived a life of ease left a name worth remembering.”

Gee thanks fellas. No pressure there.

I read in a book once that the sweetest sound in the world to a person is hearing their own name. It’s more than just a word on a birth certificate. That name is an identity. It’s a definition of who a person is. So the parents better pick a damn good name in the first place.

Bex and I had no trouble picking out girl names. There were two we both liked immediately. Maybe it was because she had me so convinced that we were having a girl that I had no issues. Once we found out that she was carrying a boy, suddenly he was doomed to be the kid with no name.

Neither one of us wanted a really common name. That meant John, Robert, Nicholas, or Brian were all out. At least we could agree on what we didn’t like.

I suggested a few names that were shot down immediately. Mainly they were superhero names; Peter, Tony, Clark, Oliver, Barry, and Thor. Bex was not fond Tyrone, Martin, or Schlomo.

I even suggested Deuteronomy. Before you laugh, here was my logic. Imagine you’re at a park with the kids and it’s lunchtime. You call out “John your sandwich is ready!” You’re gonna have four or five kids fighting over your food. But if you call out “Deuteronomy, your sandwich is ready!” Only one kid is gonna get that pb & j. The downside, his nickname will inevitably be Doody. He’ll have such a crappy time with that.

Really those were practice rounds. I needed to warm her up for the name I really liked. Bruce, as in Bruce Wayne. I’m a big Batman fan from way back you see. Naming my kid after my hero would have been a big honor. Surprise, surprise, Bex wasn’t fond of that one either.

For all the names she didn’t like, when I asked Bex to come up with one she did like, she couldn’t deliver. Not one boy name appealed to her. I have to admit that most did not appeal to me either.

As it turns out, we weren’t alone. When my mom heard about our dilemma she told us a funny story. Her and my father couldn’t agree on a name when she was pregnant with me either. Then one night, just a few nights before delivery, they were watching a popular t.v. series about two private detectives. It starred Bruce Willis and Cybil Shepard. The show was called Moonlighting. At some point during the show, mom turns to dad and says, “What about David?” Bruce Willis’ character was named David Addison. Dad agreed, because really, how cool is it to name your kid after Mr. Die Hard himself, and the rest was history.

It happened similarly for Bex and I. One night we were watching Star Wars: A New Hope. At some point I asked Bex, “What about Luke?” Really, I asked as a joke. She hadn’t liked any of my suggestions up to that point. Why would this be any different? So color me surprised when my Jedi mind trick payed off! We finally found a name we agreed on.

Luke – Named for the greatest Jedi and for Bex’s favorite book in the Bible. So, I say Star Wars and she says it’s religious. We compromise and go with what Bex says but . . .  we all know he’s our lil’ Jedi.

Zimmerman – It was my moms maiden name. Mom used it for my middle name. Becca decided to use it for Luke’s middle name. She brought a tear to my mom’s eyes with that gesture. Way to go earning good daughter in law points Bex!

Gaygen – A strong irish last name. It was my father’s before mine. His father’s before his. And yes, high school was hell for all three generations carrying that last name.

Someday he might grow up to hate the name but hopefully he has a sense of humor like his parents. Just in case, I’ve promised to keep my “Luke, I am your father.” speeches down to a minimum three times a day. After all, I don’t want to spoil the movie for him before he sees it.

I think Mignon McLaughlin came closest to parenthood when he said, “Love is the silent saying and saying of a single name.” Now this guy was thinking. It’s not so much an identity thing as it is a repetition thing.

Throughout toddler-hood and the teenage years I’ll be repeating his name over and over. “Luke, don’t climb on that.” “Luke, go clean your room.” “Don’t talk to your mother that way Luke.” “Luke, drink your blue milk.” It needs to be a name I won’t get sick of saying. If we choose poorly, his name could turn into “Damn you Luke!” or “You little bastard” pretty quickly.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.