How rich is the tapestry of life! Hopefully this story will broaden your cultural horizon, counter any lurking ethnocentricity, and enrich your life. Below are snippets of conversations and thoughts I jotted down while celebrating with friends in a pub this afternoon.
Елизавета and Владимир were celebrating their engagement.
“I didn’t think we’d ever make it this far,” said Владимир.
“I always trusted our relationship,” said Елизавета.
Елизавета poured another glass of beer from the jug. “Would you like a refill, Владимир?” she asked.
“Yes please, Елизавета,” said Владимир.
Владимир raised his glass to make a toast. “A toast before we get the taxi home,” he said. “Here’s to St Patrick’s Day in our City of Dublin.”
(Footnote – at the beginning! Sorry I haven’t been around too much recently to read the blogs of others. It’s Spring over here. I’m chasing my tail. The garden’s a mess and so is everything else! I’ll be more diligent as soon as I can. Here is today’s story:)
Senka Lotolili Theadora de Haan-Ozich-Bosnyak hated the fact that so many from her village had the same name. Why couldn’t her parents have been more creative? Whenever anyone asked her name and she said “Senka Lotolili Theadora de Haan-Ozich-Bosnyak” the next question was inevitably “Which one?” She was almost inclined to wear her address on her name tag because it would save a lot of time. Senka Lotolili Theadora de Haan-Ozich-Bosnyak was all for the modern trend of allowing people when they came of age to be able to choose their own name. She certainly would not have chosen Senka Lotolili Theadora de Haan-Ozich-Bosnyak and nor would dozens of other women in the village who shared such a hackneyed nomenclature.
It was so expensive to officially change ones name these days. And it was complicated. When Senka Lotolili Theadora de Haan-Ozich-Bosnyak went to the bank to ask if she could change the name on the bank card, the manager (upon asking her name) asked “Which one?”
Senka Lotolili Theadora de Haan-Ozich-Bosnyak was determined. She would somehow get the money. She needed a sponsor, some kindly group who would sympathize with her plight. She knocked on quite a few doors. And then, success! A local entrepreneur paid for her to have her name changed.
Sunbeam Digital-Multi-Function-Oven-and-Air-Fryer was delighted. Her friends called her Sunny. No one ever again asked “Which one?”
Cooper and Athena Gilmour wanted a large family. Oh the excitement at being able to name the firstborn; son Bjorn Andrew.
Next came a daughter, Belinda Elizabeth, then Bruno Ivan. The Ivan was after an old great uncle who had recently died and although Athena and Cooper Gilmour didn’t like the name Ivan very much it was a middle name, and middle names didn’t really matter.
The fourth child was a third boy, Bartholomew Owen, although he was known simply as Bart. And finally there was Bethany Ursula which was a bit of a mouthful, but Cooper and Athena liked both names but not necessarily when they were put together. They couldn’t decide what to choose so both names were used.
It wasn’t until the fifth and final child had been named that Athena and Cooper Gilmour realized something: the children’s names all started with B:
Bjorn Andrew Gilmour, Belinda Elizabeth Gilmour, Bruno Ivan Gilmour, Bartholomew Owen Gilmour, and Bethany Ursula Gilmour.
It was confusing having so many B. Gilmour’s, so at school they were known by their initials:
Jack Higgins had three daughters – April Higgins, May Higgins, and June Higgins. He was fast running out of appropriate month’s names for girls. What a relief it was to at last have a boy whom he named August Higgins. The names had little to do with the months they were born. The names were used simply because it was cute.
The middle names were another matter altogether. The middle names were the surnames of the fathers. There was April Dyer Higgins, May Butterworth Higgins, June Abbot Higgins, and August Bain Higgins. It was a good way to remember whose child was whose.
Jack was expecting again. The middle name was all settled – Verdonk-Bocxe. He got the name out of the paper because he didn’t know the name of the father. But as for the first name, Jack was in a quandary. It was impossible. Any suggestions?
Thingamabob (I won’t use her proper name for fear of being accused of advertising) had a lovely first name until a business company used the word as a brand of breakfast cereal. Her parents had made up the name because they liked the way it sounded. After the branding of the breakfast cereal, Thingamabob didn’t stand a chance. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry would crack a joke about breakfast cereal. All jokes were corny. Thingamabob was sad. She was only fifteen years old. It is sad to see a fifteen-year old sad.
Thingamabob wrote a letter to the breakfast cereal company explaining how they had ruined her lovely name. She received a rude reply from a Ms Pamela Draper, the Company Director: “Go jump in the lake you silly girl.” Thingamabob never forgot (nor forgave) the harsh response.
It just so happened, not too many years into the future, that Thingamabob was the publicity director of a large toilet paper manufacturing company. They needed a new name for a product. The jingle was catchy and accompanied by a full orchestra:
When in need of toilet paper Wipe your bum with Pamela Draper.
Ahunikiritu Wednesday Eenshuistra-Kouwenhoven hated her name. When one is lumbered with a useless name at birth there seems to be very little one can do about it other than wait until one is old enough and then pay to have it changed. And that is exactly what Ahunikiritu Wednesday Eenshuistra-Kouwenhoven did! In fact, she so despised her name that she changed it on her very birthday.
For years people had misspelled it or mistyped it. Some seemed to think that to spell it with a “y” instead of an “i” was a more up market interpretation. Perhaps it looked more Polish – which of course it wasn’t.
Then there was the business of mispronunciation. You’d think the name was common enough (at least parts of it) for people to generally get the pronunciation right. Her surname seemed to give the most trouble. But no! Half the time for the first eighteen years of her life Ahunikiritu Wednesday Eenshuistra-Kouwenhoven didn’t even realize that people were addressing her and not someone else in the room.
So now the relief! All was changed! That was the end of that horrid, plain name of Jane Smith that half the world mispronounced as Jane Smyth. It was the beginning of a new era! Welcome to the world Ahunikiritu Wednesday Eenshuistra-Kouwenhoven!
When Mr and Mrs Flowers had their first baby they thought it would be cute to name their daughter after flowers. They called her Rose Violet Flowers. The second child was also a girl, so they named her Iris Holly Flowers. Three further daughters followed. To be consistent they stuck to the flora. There was Myrtle Cherry Flowers, Poppy Jasmine Flowers, and Lily Daisy Flowers.
When Mrs Flowers was expecting her sixth – “This is definitely going to be the last” – she hoped for a boy. And a boy it was! They named him Rock because it was a good strong masculine name and offset a little the perceived femininity of the surname. He had no middle name; just good solid Rock.
Needless to say, the plot didn’t work. He was known at school as Pansy Flowers and he hated it. Others taunted him with Rock-a-bye-baby Flowers. On the day he turned eighteen he officially changed his name to Jack Gunn. After that he didn’t know who the heck he was and went around bullying everyone. He twice got sacked from work and was going to do himself in. That’s when he met Annie.
In the end Annie got her Gunn. They named their three boys Top, Hand, and Six.
Alfie and Connie had been together for just over a month. Both had been married before. Connie was a local person, but Alfie hailed from another part of the country altogether. One day they were walking along the street when a stranger approached Alfie and said, “Gus! I haven’t seen you for ages! How are things going?” Alfie looked flustered and uncomfortable. “I’m not Gus,” he stuttered.
Connie noted that this had happened several times before during their month together. Once someone even called out “Gus!” from across the road, and Alfie had turned suddenly as one does when responding to having ones name called out.
Then a letter arrived in the mail address to Mr. Augustine Cladworthy. Usually Alfie was all too keen to check the mail box, but on this day he was feeling a little poorly so Connie did the checking.
“Who exactly is Mr. Augustine Cladworthy?” asked Connie. “This getting called Gus has happened far too often for it to be a coincidence. It’s time you came clean.”
Alfie realized he was trapped. There was no way out. He had tried to dream up an escape story he could use should his real identity be discovered. He’d been unsuccessful at imagining something cogent, and now he was against the wall.
“Well,” he admitted, “I was the whistle blower that spilt the beans on the McPherson case just over a year ago. The government gave me a new identity. I was Gus, and now I’m Alfie.”
“We suspected so,” said Connie, “but just wanted to make sure.” She pulled out her pistol and wreaked her revenge.