A casual conversation this morning with my son has turned out to have been a thought-provoking event. It began by my asking him who he had sat with at lunch yesterday at school. (My question being posed due to knowing that he had “broken up” with his first girlfriend of two & a half weeks, at the ripe old age of 12 & had spent every lunchtime for the duration of the relationship sitting with her & her friends).
Oliver reeled off the names of a few friends….Brodie, Jarred, Savannah, etc. etc…
“What about Alice?” I asked. He looked at me, stunned.
I explained my question, re. Alice. “Isn’t she Savannah’s best friend?” (I knew this for a fact, as both girls had signed his pencil-case recently).
“No! Alice is friends with Montana!”
My mistake. Hence my morning of contemplation.
My older two children have collected many friends & acquaintances during their school years, with names such as Joshua, Tim, James, Matthew & Daniel for the boys & equally as regular girls names such as Laura, Rachel, Emily, Katie & Sarah.
Now, with my younger two, I am hearing the names Savannah, Montana, Madison & Dakota. (Is this due to the American influence on the western world, I ponder?) Then there’s December, Aries, Storm & Night. (Perhaps chosen due to the times they were born?)
Names do have their phases of popularity. My school days bring back memories of my friends Susan, Judith, Julie, Karen, Virginia & Heather, all lovely girls. A girl named Rebecca, a most unusual name at the time, I thought, had waist length plaits & a gentle manner. Which explains why, ever since that time, I have expected any Rebecca who has crossed my path to be a gentle soul.
Rebecca’s twin brother, Kingsley, an equally gentle mannered boy, was the kindest boy in the class. You would never catch Kingsley pulling a girl’s hair, or putting his foot out to trip someone up as they passed by his desk!
“Nice boys” were always called Bradley or James (including Jamie, a name now usually given to girls!) or Ian or Peter. Philip was a smooth talker, with dreamy eyes (Well, I was only 10 years old when he came to my school!) Andrew, Haydn & Noel were the trouble makers, while Ronald pushed me over at the cloak racks one day! (From that day onwards, his name was “Mud” to me!)
Then there is John. Oh dear…John. I once confided to my best friend, who was married to a John at the time, that to my mind, parents only named their babies John if they didn’t know what else to call them. To my amazement, she agreed! Story had it that her then husband had been born, most inconveniently, on his parents honeymoon. And about two months prematurely. Not knowing what to name their sudden arrival, he was named after his father….John. (Mind you, John senior, to his credit, had spruced up his name somewhat, being known himself as Jake!)
No offense to any John’s who may be reading this. My own father in law is named John. But that is actually his middle name. (Whatever possessed him to want to be known as John, I really can’t imagine!)
When tracing my family tree a couple of years ago I came across the same old names, generation after generation. Every man named James would name his first son, you guessed it…James. When son number two came along, he was named William, after his wife’s father, of course. Imagine my joy when I came across the name of my three times great grandfather…Jabez! Now, that’s a name you don’t hear every day.
All of the women in my family were named Sarah or Lily. But then I discovered a Rachel! (Oh, but then Rachel’s parents were William & Sarah).
My husband worked with a man named Arthur some years ago. Arthur was around my husband’s age but the name Arthur gave me images of an old man. So, I asked my husband to find out what Arthur’s middle name was. That might help, thought I. Sadly, I was to learn that his middle name was Harold…Arthur Harold. My spirits dropped. My mind’s eye was now seeing a little old man, short, thin & hunched over, wearing thick rimmed glasses & speaking with a timid little voice. How could this be? My husband enjoyed working with Arthur! They had become close friends!
Well, I finally met Arthur. In walked a tall, muscle-bound, handsome man….his voice boomed across the room; his manner oozed with confidence; he had an amazing sence of humour!!
From that day, I immediately & totally lost confidence in my judgements of people based on their names! I felt totally at ease with Arthur & admitted my pre-conceived ideas to him, asking if he would mind if I called him Arthur Harold, as the two names together seemed less “nerdy” (which he certainly wasn’t!) He agreed to the image that his name may suggest & also agreed to allow me to call him Arthur Harold on one condition….so long as he could call me Misses! Arthur Harold & I became friends.
Names definitely have their way of conjuring up images of the person in possession of the name. And they also go through their phases in popularity.
I remember a scene in the Disney movie “Pocahontas”, when John Smith & Pocahontas are introducing themselves to each other. John Smith says, “You have the most unusual names here…Pocahontas”, to which Pocahontas replies, “You have the most unusual name too…John Smith”!
Can’t you just see it now…in the year 2110 trend-setters will be giving birth to baby boys, and, tired of the old-fashioned names that have been around for the last 100 years, will start a new trend by naming their sons John. Followed closely by son number two with an equally unusual name….Arthur.
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