Thursday, September 25, 2008

Well... maybe he just looks like a Frank...

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Editorial Page (pg. D8)

I think it's time to legally change my name from Brian Joseph Cormier to Frank Kevin Michael Cormier. I'm not sure why, but a lot of people seem to want to call me by a name other than the one I was given when I was born.

At least once per month, I introduce myself to someone as "Brian Cormier" and they respond, "Hi Frank". It's never Jim. . . or Bob. . . or Horatio. . . or Basil. It's always Frank. And if it isn't Frank, it's a client who insists on calling me Michael when he sees me.

And then there's the local hotel catering boss who has called me Kevin for years. "Hi Kevin!" he always says cheerfully and sincerely. One day, I'm going to tell him that I'm Kevin's twin brother Brian, and that poor Kevin died of food poisoning after eating some of his banquet food at a recent event. I would then break down and sob, forcing him to console me with, "There, there . . . Brian". Only then would my real name embed itself into his hors d'oeuvre-filled brain.

That'll learn him, as they say in the boonies.

I've always been called by my first name. The only exception was a period of time in the 1980s when I acquired a nickname that I'd rather not repeat. Oh, and then there was the time that I grew a very coarse and curly beard in university. Let's just say that the nickname my college buddies gave me wasn't one you'd repeat in mixed company. Enough said about that one.

One buddy of mine liked to call me "Beej", which he derived from Brian J. Cormier. I liked that one. Not offensive in the least.

Since he was born, I've always called my brother "T-Boy", a nickname apparently arrived at from being very small as a baby ("petit" in French) and a "boy", thus T-Boy. In fact, I've never called him by his given name in my life. I don't remember my parents or sister calling him by his given name either.

My parents' names are shortened, as many are. Bernard became Bernie. Alfreda became Freda. I told another college buddy once what my father used to call my mother for short sometimes. He immediately turned it into something disgusting. He's an Anglican priest now. Something funny for the church bulletin!

I do have one aunt with a more-or-less unique name for around here: Enid. Her sister-in-law never could get her name right and called her "Ena" for years. She's been called Inez, too. And Edna.

I don't know why people give their children bizarre names, or regular names with bizarre spellings. All this does is relegate them to a lifetime of spelling out their name for everyone they meet. I suppose it sounded cute at the time. If you name your child Baubbi instead of Bobby, well you might as well just tattoo it on his forehead because it will save him the trouble of repeating it over and over again until he snaps, holds up a bank and begs the police to shoot him.

"Sir, the hostage negotiator would like to know how to spell your name."

Of course, I can't be too judgmental. I've never gone through the stressful process of having to name a child. I can just imagine having to deal with the pressure from grandparents of wanting to name a son after great uncle Egbert who invented the toilet scrubber, or a daughter after cousin Gertrude-Mathilda (that's hyphenated on purpose) who once saved the life of a local chicken by giving it CPR after it laid a jumbo-sized egg sideways.

But honestly, you'd think parents would have the guts to stand up to people who want them to give their children foolish names. In all fairness, though, I've sometimes gasped at the horrible names given to friends' children of their own free will!

I once literally laughed out loud in a friend's face when she told me what she wanted to name her son. I thought she was joking, but she was serious. I felt awful, but I'm pretty sure my horror has been vindicated as the kid has been likely getting "atomic wedgies" and "purple nurples" (look them up) in the schoolyard ever since. Poor thing! I bet he wears a pocket protector too.

One guy I know named his kid after a TV character he admired. Thankfully for the kid, it wasn't Daffy or Bugs. I also know people with no middle name -- just first and last -- as well as people who have so many middle names that they have their own page in the telephone directory.

If you're online, a fun thing to do is to Google your own name to see what others with your name are up to. Facebook is great for this because you also see photos. Who knew that every Brian Cormier on Facebook is stunningly handsome? I would have never guessed.

And for all those wrong numbers that I get: No, I'm not the Brian Cormier who's the football coach. I'm also not the Brian Cormier who plays in a band. At least I can take solace in the fact that they're likely stunningly handsome with a name like that.

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