What's in a name? For this average Joe, more than meets the ear
I have a problem with people getting my name wrong.
I have a pretty simple name, without a lot of letters, so it should be pretty easy to remember. My first name — if you use the name I prefer and not my full first name — is one simple syllable and three letters. It’s a consonant and two vowels. It’s similar to a woman’s name that is even simpler.
That name is only one consonant and one vowel, but it’s pronounced the same. The feminine version of my full first name has three letters more than the masculine version, but the female short version is only two letters, the above-mentioned one consonant and one vowel, where the male short version is three letters, the above-mentioned consonant and two vowels.
I know that sounds quite algebraic, but it’s really quite simple. I am the literal Average Joe.
I could understand if I had a name that was difficult to pronounce. I used to work with a guy named Guy, but it wasn’t pronounced “guy” like “he’s a nice guy,” but “gee” with a hard G and rhymed with “key.”
He had a hard time with people calling him “guy,” and I told him it could be worse. He could have been named Yves, which is pronounced like “eve,” and he laughed. Yves was his brother’s name.
Guy and Yves were Belgian, so their names made total sense. As I remember it, Guy was a nice guy. I don’t know all about Yves.
A number of years ago, I was in training for a new job and there was a guy there who mumbled his name when he was introduced to me and I could swear the trainer called this guy “Zoltan.” Who am I to judge someone’s name? So from that day forward, he was known to me and the others in the training class as Zoltan.
I worked with Zoltan for about three years, calling him Zoltan every day until the last day I was working with him and we were saying our goodbyes and he asked me why everyone called him Zoltan. I looked at him like he was nuts since it was his name.
As it turns out, this guy was named Colton, not Zoltan, and a whole classroom of people heard it wrong. For three years, our entire department called this guy Zoltan like he was from Jupiter.
He was not from Jupiter. He was from Urbana, Illinois, and was named Colton.
There is a guy who comments about this column every week on Facebook. His name is Frank, and he is. Quite frank, actually. He usually has a snarky comment about the content of the column and I have gotten quite used to his comments and look forward to them each week.
About his frankness, quite frankly, I don’t give a damn. He can be frank, or Frank or whatever. I picture him as a Dick, anyway.
I have touched on names in previous columns, most notably those that are unusual or funny or what have you, but I never gave too much thought to my own until there was an epidemic of people getting it wrong.
I have gotten every name but my own. Most of them have been one syllable, like Steve or Doug, or Tom, but once in a while it gets a little, um, different. The majority of them cannot be written in this column.
My wife is Carolyn. She has been called Caroline (the most common), Carol, Carlotta, Charlotte, Cynthia and Bernice. I don’t know where the Bernice came from, but it happened.
Some people call her by her initials, C.J., but even this gets goofed up. I think the best one was when she got called A&P. Her maiden name was particularly difficult for some folks, and once she was referred to as “Caroline Squeezer” which, in addition to sounding ridiculous, made her sound like a professional wrestler. To summarize, you can call me Joe. If you want to be formal, you can call me Joseph, as I will answer to that usually accompanied by a “Sir?” or “Ma’am?”
A few people can get away with calling me Joey, but I don’t particularly care for it. The columnist Andy Rooney didn’t like being called Andy and preferred Andrew. I guess they started calling him Andy for television, but a lot of his books had his name as Andrew A. Rooney.
Call me what you want, really, but as the old line says, don’t call me late for dinner.
Joe Weaver, a native of Baltimore, is a husband, father, pawnbroker and gun collector. From his home in New Bern, he writes on the lighter side of family life.
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