What's in a name?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

We tag names on people that sound cute when they are babies or youngsters, but the names somehow don't fit the person when the person matures.

A friend of mine is called Koochie. I've always known her by that name. Where she got it, I don't know. But now that she's in her seventies, she's embarrassed to be called by that nickname. Her real name is Elizabeth and many of her new friends know her by that name. But not by me.

My father-in-law was called Shorty, most likely because he was short in stature. His real name was Ira. His grandkids called him Pa.

I named my daughter Judith. Once my grandfather asked me why I would name my daughter such a name.

He had misunderstood, thinking I had named her Judas, as in Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Christ. I quickly straightened that out.

Another dear friend was tagged with a nickname she would whisper to me, embarrassed to be called Petsie (pronounced Pete-see). Her family members called her that in private.

My cousin is called Kitten. She was an only child with doting parents. Somewhere along the line they began calling her Kitten and the name stuck. Now that she's almost old enough to draw Social Security, the name Kitten doesn't sound quite suitable.

Some given names are shortened. Matthew becomes Matt; Ronald is shortened to Ron; Samuel is Sam; Jonathan becomes John; Rosemary is Rose, Patricia is Pat; Raymond becomes Ray; Millicent is Milly.

People traditionally name their male dogs, Buddy, Jack, Max or Jake. Popular female names are Daisy, Lucy, Molly or Sadie. Some people name their big dogs, Duke or Chief, or names like that. But some choose more unconventional names. My son named one of his hunting dogs, Slick, and another one, Shag. He named a Dalmation, Spook.

His current dog is a small feist named Boss. Boss doesn't look like he could boss anyone around. He's about a foot high with slick white hair, almost skinny .He does have a strong bark and exercises that skill, day and night.

My daughter's Schnauzers are named Belle and Jake. Belle is a quick learner but Jake is 'fetch the ball" disabled, but, oh, so sweet.

A friend owned a tiny female puppy that was the runt of the litter. It almost died at birth and was the smallest living dog I've ever seen.The veterinarian told my friend not to get her hopes up because he didn't think the pup would survive its many health problems.

My friend named the puppy, Princess.. Unfortunately the veterinarian was right. The puppy lived only a few months..But it was treated like a princess for those few short months.

Consider the birds. They come in various colors; bright red, blue, black, brown, yellow, multicolored. They have different mating and nesting habits, temperaments and names, There are Cardinals, bluebirds, hummingbirds, sparrows and finches. But call them what you may, they are birds.

In high school a classmate was called "Fruity", as in nutty as a fruitcake. He was a teaser, a prankster and quite funny. His wit and humor was unmatched by others in the classroom. He had an amusing quip for every situation and he was a gifted storyteller. Students and teachers alike liked him. The principal, too, liked him.

After he graduated, matured, and took his place in society, he became a factory office manager, a town mayor, and a Baptist deacon. The nickname was forgotten by all but a few. After that, he was known as Mr. Adams. Nevertheless, his humor benefitted his children and grandchildren as they grew up.

Which proves the point I'm getting to. Yes, I know I took the long way around.

In William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Juliet says, "That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

What Shakespeare is saying is that what matters is what something is, not what it is called.

In other words, we could call a rose by any name we want to, but it would still have the aroma of a rose, because it is a rose.

Gertrude Stein's sentence says, "A rose is a rose is a rose."

We can call a friend any nickname we want to, but a friend is still a friend.

That's what matters.