Wednesday, March 5, 2008

What's In a Name?

I don't know why I've been noodling this of late, but I have so bear with me, please. Or don't. It's still sort of a free country, depending on who you ask these days. Straying... Focus, focus, focus...

So, I've been noodling how it is one ends up with a name or moniker or nom de plume or whatever. Back when I wrote my old blog, I went by my real name, because, well, why shouldn't I? Then one day I decided I'd replace the old blog with a new blog in an effort to a) no longer have to hear from certain family members about why blogging was a bad thing; b) no longer have to hear how certain extended family members were using my blog against certain immediate family members; c) get with the program that says blogging under your real name is a foolish thing to do; and d) ensure I couldn't be found via a Google search.

I chose a couple of letters out of my real name, plus a geographic location and came up with Jay M. Tewkesbury. I figured I'd be called Jay on this blog, but somehow I've ended up with the nickname Tewkes or Tewkesy. I'm indifferent either way and I kind of like being called Tewkes; it makes me feel sort of a regimental in a rather English ancestral manner whereas Jay just sounds sort of eh.

Oddly, when people mispronounce my real name or take it upon themselves to shorten it or think it's cute when they realize my name rhymes with planet and they combine the two, my hackles are raised and I become a very cranky girl. I'll stop dead in my tracks and tell you not to call me that or admonish you for using the word planet in conjunction with my name. In fact, I'm so adamant about it, I think I've shocked some people into embarrassed, awkward silence. It's one of my lesser social graces, truth be told.

Why is that? I mean, most times it's a no harm, no foul situation and I doubt the person intended with forethought of any kind--malicious or otherwise--to call me Jan or Janice or Janette. Still. My name is my name and I like it that way. As for calling me Interplanetary J*net or J*net From Another Planet a la The Rocky Horror Picture Show? Well, I'd suggest you not. Otherwise, you might find yourself on the receiving end of my acerbic tongue.

Could be worse, though. When I worked in San Francisco, I worked with a guy who use to talk to himself in whispers. He was a production editor and spent the bulk of his day laying out newsletters. We shared a cubicle wall. One day, I kept hearing him say what I thought were the words "Dammit, J*net" under his breath. Finally, after the sixth or seventh expletive-name combo, I said, "What Giles?" He looked over his cubicle at me in confusion.

"You keep saying my name and cursing," I explained.

He laughed and said, "No, I'm just saying dammit, dammit, dammit."

Yeah. I'd misheard. Which resulted in Rule Number Three when employing the use of my name in a sentence. If cursing, my name cannot be used in conjunction with dammit, because hearing the words "Dammit J*net" in the same sentence is just not cool! I don't care if it is a cult classic.


Cele said...

I have an unusual name, but not one that's never been heard. So it doesn't bother me when it's pronounced wrong, I've begun collecting fouled up versions from the mail, just to tickle my funny bone.

There are two things that drive me crazy.

1) I have literally, and more than a few times, walked into a business and had a friend hail me by name. Inevitably some idiot will turn around and ask, "Flockart?"

2) My online name is Celebrindal, taken from Tolkien's Simarillion. Pronounced Kel - brin - dal. Over time it's been shortened to Cele, but people will pronounce it selly. huh?

I like you as Tewkes, I'm not sure why, it just is you.

NG said...

Funny how you never get over some things. My brother still has not recovered from having his name rhymed with "Fanny" early in life. As a result, he is the premiere authority on "How kids will make fun of the name you are considering for your own child." When I was contemplating a name for The Dormouse, I sent possibilities to him for the run down. He'd send back a laundry list of what nicknames could be made from it. Finally, I realized: It doesn't matter what a kid's name is... someone will find a way to make fun of it, shorten it, or create a nickname somewhere... and it will probably be that kid's father.

Phoenix Touch said...

OMG! Thank you for being well enough again to post something that caused me to laugh so hard I almost peed. I HAVE MISSED YOU! And am grateful to see that you may be coming out on the other side of the hellish illness you have had.

Love you - no matter what your name is!!! LOL


J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Cele: Well, I learned something new today. How to properly pronounce your name! D'oh! I promise, I will never use your name and Flockhart in the same sentence.

NG: Oh, lovely. Well, I suppose if I had to be teased about my name, I'd rather be teased about it at home than at school/church/work/wherever.

Abgue: Glad I could be of service! I'm always good for a laugh or two on my better days.

LG said...

I'm partial to Tewkes. Short, sweet and to the point.

I go by LG ... mostly so I'm not searchable on Google and so family members can't easily find me. If they really really wanted to, they could. But I feel like they're already so upset merely by the fact that I don't go to church; I don't know that seeing my life uncensored is the answer. I also know that some of my fam would use it against me or against others, and I'm not interested in my life being the epicenter of any more drama.

hm-uk said...

Aww man, I'm guilty of pairing your name with Dammit. I had one summer of attending the Rocky Horror Picture Show no less than 11 times, at the cinema at Harvard Square. I learned all the audience lines and my favorite character was Dammit...

Sorry if I made you cringe. I hate it when people ask me where Bill is...


J.M. Tewkesbury said...

LG: I hear ya! I'm hoping no one in my family has found this blog. (If they have, they aren't saying anything, which is unsettling.)

Aitch: I'll make an exception for you, Bee, my brother, and Di. Oh, and maybe Sister Mary Lisa. But that's it. No one else! As for the reference to Bill in connection with your name, that must get really old. Perhaps, the next time someone makes that reference, you could laugh it off and say, "Yes, I'm in charge of Clinton's U.K. campaign office."

(You'd be surprised how many people will believe you. When my grandfather's second cousin ran for governor of Utah, my grandfather would tell them Norm Bangerter had put him in charge of his Wyoming campaign. People fell for it.)