I’ve too much time on my hands at the moment so my mind is pondering all sorts of things. One of which is the power of names. How much does your name inform your life?

I’ve always worried that my parents doomed me to go bald, wear glasses and work at an accounting firm by giving me the middle name of “Harvey” — Yeah, Harvey. That is my middle name. And, I’ve never cared too much for my first name either. “Matthew” is so formal and when called by my full name I feel like I am in trouble or something. And, it seems that whenever someone introduces me as “Matt” the person always mistakes it for “Nat”

Growing up I was always called “Matty” — to which I was most comfortable. However, upon my move to the north east I was forever called “Matt” by everyone except my closest friends. I hated my middle name so much that I never bothered to learn to spell it. It was only when purchasing a condo that I discovered that “Harvey” had an “e” in it. I didn’t know.

But, I often wonder what life would have been like if I had been given a different name.

My favorite names when I was growing up were James, Kevin and Derek.

When my mother gave birth to my little brother she allowed me to name him. I named him “James” — but my father seemed annoyed and insisted that my brother’s middle name be “Roy” — now, this was late 1978 at the height of that lame TV show, DALLAS. Argh! I worried that my baby brother would be forever cast as JR. Luckily only on person ever called him that and he kicked the bucket when Roy was fairly young. And, Roy is the name that stuck. “James” just never seemed to fit. Maybe it was because we were in Texas. Not sure.

Sometimes I wish my name were “Gus”

Not sure why, but I do like the sound of that name. Warm, friendly and fun. Were I named Gus would I have taken the same paths as Matthew? Or would it have gotten me teased in school? If I had been teased in school, how would that have informed me as an adult? Hmmmm… The questions just seem to multiply.

Actually, I know very few people who seem to be really happy with the name assigned by their parents. However, fewer are more cruel than “Harvey” — Ok, “Eugene” is a tough one to have to carry off.

My grandmother and her sisters were all given names that I would associate with cows.

Edna, Gladys and Elsie all had self-image issues. Was it because of their names? Would being a girl burdened with a name normally assigned to large milk-giving farm animals make life more difficult? And, my poor Grandmother got hit with the double whammy of having the middle name of “Gertrude” — Yikes! Just think about having to work that one!

Would we have Cher if her mother had opted to name her “Nancy” instead of “Cherilyn”? Would Barbra be the same witih the third “a”? Would Elvis have inspired a nation if his name had been “Harold”? “Todd” Lennon instead of John? And, really, is “Roman” a fair name to give a boy? I think not!

And, then there are the movies! Would Carrie had been doused in pig’s blood if her name were “Jane” or “Brenda” —- one can only make a guess. However, I just don’t see a Jane or Brenda as being a prime target for bovine blood. “…if you have a taste for terror, take Jane to the prom” — No. It just doesn’t work.
And, if your name is “Henry” I will always think of “serial killer” when I hear or say your name. And, has anyone had the guts to name their little girl “Blanche” since Mr. Williams changed modern theatre? Hmmm…

The list of existensial name questioning could go on for days!

But, Gus. “Gus” is a cool name if you ask me…

Today’s iPod Shuffle:
“Why Didn’t You Call Me?” by Macy Gray
“Getting Better” by The Beatles
“We’re A Happy Family” by Ramones
“Yoo Hoo” by Imperial Teen
“Tits on the Radio” by Scissor Sisters
“Bliss” by Tori Amos

January 5, 2006. Uncategorized.


  1. ing replied:

    Apologies to all the “Guses” out there, but

    I always thought Gus had a woeful, mopey ring to it. Friendly, perhaps, but hangdog.

    If I had a boy, I’d name him Cole, or maybe Clay. And when I was a girl I always wanted to be a Samantha or an Isabelle. Instead, I got stuck with a dull name with hundreds of slight variations that every other girl in junior high seemed to go by. I wanted to be exceptional!

    I share your association with “Henry” after seeing that terrifying movie. “Matty,” however, is perfect. And the middle initial “H.” is cool. As in, “Jesus H. Christ.”

  2. Hot Toddy replied:

    If I went by my first name instead of my middle name I would be Hot Mike. Doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?

  3. Jennifer replied:

    My parents almost named me Holly, what with my birthdate being so danged close to Christmas. Thank goodness they didn’t…it doesn’t suit. I like Jennifer, although I did go by my middle name (Margaret) for awhile, which I actually even better.

    By the way, pig’s blood is porcine, not bovine. Bovine relates to cows. 🙂

  4. matt replied:

    Jen — I’m glad your name isn’t Holly. Oh, man! I hate it when I get pigs and cows mixed up! Tho, it isn’t as bad as when I confuse birds with dogs.

    ing — You’ve a cool name, actually. If you ask me, anyway. Isabelle is an exceptional name! Perhaps our names drive us to kick it up a notch higher than we would have had we been assigned top notch names!

    Hot Toddy — You would be hot with any name, baby!

  5. snarl71 replied:

    Gus..isn’t that the name of the lesbian’s kid on Queer as Folk?

    I always wanted to be Mike…but spelled Myque.

    I’m a freak.

  6. Lubin replied:

    My parents named me after two of the Beatles, so had I been born now I’d probably be called Eminen Britney or something.

    I think Matt is a great name incidentally. I always said when I was younger if I ever had kids I would call them Butch and Tippi. But looking back on that decision, I don’t think I’d’ve been thanked for it when they got older.

  7. Karyn replied:

    All right, well I have a few things to say – shocking, I know.

    We loved the name Matthew and contemplated giving it to the baby who would become W. (He just looked like a W.)

    I grew up with a kid named Harvey and I loved the name because I loved him! I still think it’s cute and I remember everybody calling him Harv.

    My first son’s middle name is Henry – I know not which serial killer of which you speak, and maybe it’s better I don’t? But C. loved that name and while I couldn’t slap it on a baby as a first name, it suited J. for a middle name.

    Gus. Well… in my family we have a story about a ghost named Gus who haunted our apartment when I was little. More on that later. Suffice it to say we found him neither cool nor friendly.

    The names we are given DO make a difference, I believe. With both my children I tried to bestow names upon them which fit THEN and which would fit fifty years from then. Kind of classic & solid but with a cool edge to them. I’m not sure I succeeded but here’s hoping.

    A girl I went to school with named her first daughter Whisper. There were twins born down here named Lord and Lady. I shudder to think of their futures.

    This particular topic I could go on about forever! But we love you and your name Matty! xxoo

    PS: Your mother must have had tremendous faith in your unfailing sense of style, even then! I love the name James but C. has veto power and that one got nixed. If I let J. name W., we’d have gone home with baby “Tigger” or baby “Cookie Monster”. Can you imagine?

  8. Tim replied:

    Names are weird, aren’t they …. I hated being a ‘Timothy’ at school, because it was so Biblical (it means ‘honouring God’) and so formal sounding, especially when said with an upper-class English accent ….. But, I really don’t mind it now, I feel like a Tim, and I even don’t mind being called Timothy occassionally.

    When thinking about names, the first thing that comes into my head is people I know, then famous people, and then porn stars. So I would NEVER be able to call a son of mine Clay or Cole, for example, as they bring very specific images to mind. Sorry Ing!!

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