Wednesday, September 19, 2007


I was fortunate that my parents gave me a name that was hard to change into a nickname. Only three times was I forced to bear the burden of my name being changed: once, when I attended sleep away camp (no that's not a euphanism for juvenile detention) there was another boy who spelled his name with one "n", he became Glen1 and I became Glenn2 -- 2 quickly became deuce, so for 4 weeks I became known as the "deuce". In grade school, for a brief amount of time, the 4:00 PM cartoon show was hosted by a woman named Glendora. That name was extinguished with a punch or two on the playground. While in Boot Camp, we were given canvas jackets to wear to ward off the cold. This wasn't part of the regular uniform so they had us stencil our names on the left chest side. After about a week, all that was left of my stencil was the NIC. So they called me Nick.

Glenn is a Scottish name which means small, rural valley or dale. I've always been proud of my Scotch-Irish heritage, there was never a time when I wished I had a different name.

Many young people today follow the role models that they see on television who take names other than their own. People like Sean Combs, who can't seem to make up his mind what his name is. He went from Sean Puffy Combs, to Puff Daddy and now is PDiddy, except with his clothing line is concerned, he is Sean Jean, a little confusing.

Inner-city kids, who I taught for years, all have a street name, which I refused to call them by in class. I told them that their parents chose their name and they should be proud of it. It wasn't uncommon to hear me say something like, "No Rayquon, I will not call you pork chop", or "No, Laquasha, you are not Jelly Bean as long as you are in my classroom."

Pride in names seems to be something of the past. Imagine being an 86-year-old grandmother and your name is Apple or Moon Unit, it just doesn't seem appropriate. It is as if people don't think about the future and what this can do to a person.

So......why is this entry titled For Susan?

My wife shared an email with me about how a friend entering school one year was placed in a class with multiple Susans. Arbitrarily, the teacher gave her the name "Sue". This name stuck throughout her time in public school. She decided on leaving home to attend college that she wanted to be Susan, and from that day on would correct people when they called her Sue. I find this commendable. It is her name and I don't think it is inappropriate to demand that you be called by your rightful name. Of course, that doesn't hold true when you work with me, I used to work with a man named Michael who whenever someone called him "Mike", he would immediately correct them by saying, "please, I prefer Michael." I just couldn't do that. I used to call him Mike, Mikey, Mickey and after a while, he would just shake his head and laugh.

Susan is a Hebrew name drawn from Susanna, or, Zsa-Zsa which translates to Lilly. I can understand why someone would want to be called by such a nice name.

Now....knowing me, from this day forward in my mind Susan you will forever be Zsa-Zsa.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For me, it is so poignantly ironic that the background of your blog is red. For it is in a red sweater that I first remember seeing you. Now, don't get too big a head, I am a clothes fanatic and so I remember things like that! You looked good in red (probably still do): dark hair, dark eyes, contrasted by that famous flash of smile, so seemingly easy and confident. You had this women-killer way of tossing your head and with it, that wonderful lock of hair. I am sure, Kathy, you will remember that move and what a fine move it was! I have always wanted to ask you whether that was practiced.
Anyway, back to my story. After a very brief fling, you broke my heart; no one's fault - just not a match. That day, I remember you in the hall, leaning over my friend, Chris C. in that same, damn red sweater. (OK... no, not really- a little literary license here - it has the makings of a good thread woven through, doesn't it?) It was a school picture of you in that same red sweater (really) that I kept on my dresser, crying over it for six long, pillow soaked months in sixteen year old drama-queen style. Oh, my God, how very fashionable it was at that age to have unrequited love!!
Then one sunny day, another boy must have turned my head. I don't remember who, probably some insignificant jerk. But feeling free enough of you, I ceremoniously burned your photo in my back yard. Sorry. I was always afraid of matches but that seemed to be the way to finally rid myself of you. I remember my mother was so relieved that I had finally stopped my ridiculous "mooning around" over "some idiot boy". Oh no, more symetry??
Now, almost exactly forty years later, you have turned up, in red again, breaking my heart. Granted, In an entirely different way, but nevertheless, breaking my heart again. What a bum!! So, the point of this story and I'm sure you are anxious for me to finally get to the point already, is that you can call me whatever and whenever you want. Hopefully, mostly just friend. Both of you.
Love, zz.
By the way, I kind of like it!