Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My name is…

Today’s my birthday. Now, after you’ve taken the empathetic heavy sigh, I thought I’d provide you something a little different with regards to the daily bloggeration… my name.

I was named after my uncle Kenneth, I was told when I was a child. Why? What did he do, I’d ask. I assumed you had to do something special to have something named after you, the way my elementary school was named after John Adams or my high school was named after… well, an elongated depression between uplands, hills, or mountains. Okay, so my high school doesn’t count but I figured my uncle must have done something… really… What? Nothing? Nothing at all? You just liked the name?

Well, then, it can’t really be considered “being named after him”, now can it? And then, it turned out my uncle Kenneth wasn’t really my uncle at all. My mom was adopted. He was kind of my pretend uncle.

This just gets shakier and shakier.

It gets worse when you get to my middle name, Russell. “Why was I named Russell?” I’d ask as a child, usually trying to find something – oh for the love of god, anything! – interesting about my name. My mother would answer, “You were named after your dad’s, um, some guy, um, I think they were friends or something, um, oh – look! – a butterfly!”

Nobody’s entirely sure why I was named Russell. I’m guessing that, once again, they just liked the name. That’s not a bad thing, mind you. If Vicky and I ever have children, the names we have in mind are ones that we like. If my mother had just said that, things would have been on much more solid ground.

As a boy, I had choices, some known. I was totally in the dark about others. I had no idea I could be called Rusty. The thought never even occurred to me, which is probably a very good thing. I mean, can you imagine me with the name “Rusty”. Yeah, that’s scary. No, I eschewed the middle name and played around only with the first.


Ken. Kenny. Kenneth. Those were my options.

As a child, people called my Kenny. Friends found it friendly. Enemies found it easy to remember when beating me up. (I was a puny kid with glasses, what do you expect?) But, by the time I got to high school, I was tired of it. And, after all, who wouldn’t be? People would say, “Kenny?” and I would reply, “What-ey?” I was sick of the childish-sounding name! So, one day I dropped the “ny” and became “Ken”. Just like that, people started calling me “Ken”. I don’t know how it worked; this was, after all, pre-Internet.

By the time I hit my 30’s, I was tired of Ken, too. It’s just so guttural. “Ken. Ugh. Food.” It’s hardly an adequate representation of me. So, I decided to screw all derivatives. I was going with Kenneth!

… unfortunately, the rest of the world stuck with Ken. Kenneth was a better sounding name. It had substance and heft. It sounded cerebral, as if it was “neth” better than “ken”.

But nobody was buying it. And this was post-Internet.

So, I just learned to live with it.

Occasionally, people will still call me Kenny and, I have to say, I find it rather nice at times. As I get older, Kenny has a refreshing ring to it. I wouldn’t want to be called it all the time, mind you, but it’s a friendly change of pace.

There was a woman I worked with at Linksys who always called me Kenny. She was the only one there to do it, so I let her. Her name was Karen and she’d always say it was “Karen with a K”. (To which I would reply, “Thanks for clearing that up.” She never got it.) So, I guess mine is “Ken with a K” for the easily confused.

Meanwhile, yes, Russell has been completely ignored. Like the extraneous male nipples, I don’t really do anything with Russell… and here I will end with a quandary.

I know Ken La Salle rather well. This Russell La Salle guy, though, is a stranger to me.

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