Your name is what?

May 14th, 2012 § Leave a Comment

For a couple of years, I went by the name Harold. Whew. Glad I got that off my chest – that’s a load off. I’ve come clean. Opened the closet for all to see. Go ahead, Ye without sin ... Really, it’s not much of a secret anymore. For years, I tried to keep it under lock and key. The mention of American names in conversation would get my ears hot. In a panic, I’d attempt to hijack the conversation to fly it far, far away from the subject. In recent years though, I’ve grown lax. As it often does, the hiding grows more dreadful than the monster itself. Now, many of my friends know. My kids know. It’s a bit of an inside joke now. Haha … haaaaa. 

Oh yeah, American names. “What’s an American name?” You ask. Right. Unless you’re an immigrant, and a certain type at that, you wouldn’t know. In 1977 the world wasn’t quite so small. Globalization wasn’t a word. More xenophobic … maybe not. More centralized and narrow? Definitely. It wasn’t hip to be multicultural, to be a connoisseur of ethnic foods. It wasn’t cool to be Korean. In such a world, the American name was an attempt at quick assimilation. For a “bowl cut” kid, turned instant card carrying alien to his surroundings by hopping a 12 hr flight, the American name at the least took down the “sign” that blared, “I’m not from around here.”

Quick. Yes. But at what price? I wonder. What is more you then your name? An abrupt change like a violent face lift, no? A disowning of self. Maybe a name isn’t a mere name: Changing it, not so innocuous. Reading a bit too much into it? Maybe. If nothing else, the lesson might be: Something as important as naming shouldn’t be left to just anyone – definitely not to oneself. You do, and you get disasters like Metta World Peace, Whoopi Goldberg, … and, yeah, you get Harold.


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