Many thanks to my sister Jeanne for providing a guest post for today’s midweek musings.
What’s in a sobriquet?
It’s the same but not the same. I suspect we all notice when reading an article or a book and a character is mentioned that has the same name as our own. Our names are very personal to us and yet others share it. We might wonder if they could also share any of our other attributes, like stargazers who believe all persons born under a specific astrological sign share similar characteristics. Do all Alices like science or all Kevins care about the environment? Are all Mindys quick to fall in love, or all Ralphs always standup guys?
Many of us have a list of famous or not so famous folk who share our name. As a young girl with the differently spelled name I was delighted to learn that Joan of arc’s real name was Jeanne d’Arc. As a teen I discovered Jeanne Crane and then Jeanne Moreau but Jeannes were few and far between. Later living in France, I discovered Jeanne was an extremely common French name and learned to stop turning every time I heard someone call it out in the street.
Of course, my sister Stormy almost never saw her name in print until a recent presidential scandal. She has had to explain her name uncountable times. Her father, an avid reader, was reading some 1950s tome about an inspiring woman doctor titled ‘A Woman Named Storm’. He was intrigued by the character and the name so when his first child was born, he immediately began calling her Stormy much to my mother’s chagrin. He had argued to have it on her birth certificate but mom insisted on naming her after his long dead mother. But it’s stuck and except for school teachers and an angry mother that is the name she has been called and learned to love. She eventually changed it legally.
Recently I have noticed the name Emmet frequently. My nephew, the creative director at National Geographic is an Emmet. When he was born, I was surprised at his new name. It seemed old-fashioned for a newborn. But he grew easily into his name and his old auntie has discovered dozens of eminent men who share his name including the great football player who shares both first and last name, Emmet Smith.
Emmet’s brothers share their names, Elliot with writer T.S.Elliot and Adam with Adam Smith, the economist. The question is do you like or admire your name sharing other or did your parents name you for someone who has become infamous.
Our own mother had an extremely odd name, so uncommon that her children only discovered it as a small town in northern Africa. That is until 2009. The unusual name my mother disliked suddenly became known countrywide, Zella. Sadly, she died before her name became known and popular as a women’s activewear brand. She would have enjoyed it.
Names are funny. Many youngsters and teens, especially females it seems, say they hate their names and fantasize about their wished-for name. Some brave souls actually change their moniker to one of their own choice. But as we grow, most of us adapt to fit our names or some nickname variation and are comfortable or accepting of our parents’ choice.