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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sorry -- What Was Your Name Again?

I saw Bruce Lee the other day.

No, not the leaping, karate-chopping Bruce Lee, the other Bruce Lee. The one who lives down the road from me. You know. Bartender? The one who has parties in his garage? Yeah, that one.

In my life time, I have known a Bruce Lee, a James Bond, and a Tom Cruise. Both James and Tom left my life long ago, but Bruce is still around, and it got me wondering. How does having a famous name affect your life?

I could ask Bruce, I suppose, but he works all the time; so rather than inconvenience myself by, you know, popping by there and sitting and talking to him about it, I think I’ll just extrapolate.

Still with me?

James Bond. Poor Jimmy Bond. Even the 10th grade math teacher Mr. Sums (I made that up) couldn’t resist calling roll the first morning with a fake British accent: “Bond? James Bond?” he’d say, a smarmy grin on his face. Poor Jimmy. There he was, right up front with the other beginning-of-the-alphabet names. “Here,” he sniffled miserably. Jimmy was a little on the scrawny side with a perpetually running nose. Looking back on it, he probably had a number of undiagnosed allergies and could’ve used a pill or two. What he got, however, was chased down the football field after school by a good portion of the soccer team. In the end, Jimmy was caught and “shaken, not stirred”. Last I heard, James Bond was working in the parks system and was on his second wife.

Tommy, on the other hand, was, as we said back in the day, “fiiiiiiiiiiine”. What a good looking arrogant little bastard he was.

Oh, Tom! Why didn’t you ever call me like you said you were going to?!

I saw Tom at the 10-year high school graduation. He had gone to the Air Force Academy right after graduation and was doing very well for himself. Heavy drinking had altered his looks dramatically, but he was still an arrogant little bastard, and he was drunk drunk drunk. He couldn’t believe I was still single, I couldn’t believe he was still upright, and I slipped out the front door after claiming I had to use the bathroom rather than hear what was going to come out of his mouth next. I actually ran to my car.

What a waste of his good looks and a pretty cool name – or at least until the real Tom Cruise came out with the Scientology stuff. Then it got strange.

So how does having a famous name affect you? Outside of being just one more bullet in the arsenal of casual childhood cruelty, the passage of time seems to take care of it. If it's not your name, it's your height, your hair, your glasses, or whatever little weirdness – perceived or real – that they can sniff out about you.

And speaking of weirdness, I've gotta run. I'm meeting Cher and Ozzy for a drink, and you don't want to let these two start without you.

40 comments:

mybabyjohn said...

When I worked in insurance I started a collection of odd names. For example, Mr and Mrs Manella named their son Sam....Sam Manella. Mr and Mrs Wood named their daughter Holly....Holly Wood. Actual names of real people that had to live with that for the rest of their lives, or in the case of Holly, until she got married.

Boxer said...

I knew a Gus Sinkbile once and I think he would have REALLY preferred Tom Cruise for a name. He couldn't get married and dump it. So sad.

(and I have a guy in my neighborhood who has parties in his garage.... has the lit beer sign, the whole gig... kinda creepy.)

Linda O'Connell said...

Famous names are one thing. When my hubby was younger he was often mistaken for one of the bad guys on The Sopranos.

Sioux said...

The "shaken, not stirred" part was hilarious. You're right. Kids are jackals--they'll sniff out something--anything--and then start the neverending circling and sniping.

The only way I found to conquer them was to beat them to the punch, and use self-deprecating humor before they could lob one my way.

aBroad said...

My name is not especially famous but my name is well known .. for various reasons .. most of them having to do with a Sweet Tooth !!!
Actually, my name is famous but only for the woman whose name was appealing enough to my mother so she named me after her.
One of my grandmothers names was Pearl, btw. She was the famous one :)
besitos, C

Rachel said...

What's really sad is when you work in law enforcement and see all the alias selections that people give. UGH.

Charming until you realize that "Cinammon Spanks" is the BOY you knew from fourth grade.

Thanks for the crack ups this morning!

Barbara Blundell said...

I worked with a girl called Rhoda Christianson who married a man called Alan Bull . A friend Hazel Dale had a baby girl but was unable to use the popular name Emma
Our tutors at college always addressed us with out title We had a Miss Place,a Miss Chance and the doctor was Miss Fortune

savannah said...

i go by one name here in town, sugar! yeah, i'm that famous (NOT). it's just that nobody can pronounce my last name! ;~D xoxoxox

(but that isn't really what you're talking about, is it?)

Bossy Betty said...

My son had a friend named James Bond. I never trusted that kid.

Daisy said...

Tom does sound like a right prick! Glad you were able to escape!

No famous name for me. Well, there is hockey equipment, and when I "google" me for fun, some interesting people come up. :-)

lunamother said...

I went to grade school with Charlie Brown. Kid had a round head, too poor thing.

Eva Gallant said...

Love the "shaken not stirred" bit! My youngest son when he was a teenager, was told often that he looked like Tom Cruise. Fortunately, he never got into Scientology and I think he grew more handsome than Tom when he entered his 30s.

Clipped Wings said...

No crazy name, but growing up I never used my initials 'YJP' on anything until I got married.

jabblog said...

I knew a John Thomas - poor man!

Drake Sigar said...

I imagine it’s exactly like being an aging actor who was in one hugely popular movie when he was younger and is constantly stopped on the street to be pestered by the same set of trivial questions for the rest of his life, such as what was it like to work with *insert actor here*

Susan in the Boonies said...

What's in a name?
Lots, apparently.

Names are fraught with meaning: ask them Capulets and Montagues. They know. Oh, how they know.

jenny_o said...

There's a very thoughtful post lurking behind the humour here. Even if a classmate doesn't have an unusual or famous name, the other kids can twist and mangle it until it's wince-inducing. But, yeah, over the years, things quite often even out, especially once people aren't forced to spend 6 - 8 school hours confined in small rooms with their torturers.

Except, um, if they go to WORK with them after graduation. Sigh.

Audubon Ron said...

I handle my famedom with a certain measure of humility, and I never interact with the great unwashed. Though I drive a pickup with 200,000 miles on the odometer, wearing a scarf and dark sun glasses in Walmart is probably the hardest part, albeit, very effective. Though I collect looks, no one approaches.

IndigoWrath said...

Hey Pearl! As a Roth, I have the unenviably glorious reputation of my family to live up to; Hollywood, industry, espionage, music, science, philanthropy. It's a burden, I can tell you. Thank goodness I have great genes. Indigo x

Mamma has spoken said...

I have had many a students whose names left you shaking your head wondering what those parents were thinking. Examples: Tom Sawyer, Carson Palmer, and Absolutely Precious. The third one reminds me of a stripper name...

Anonymous said...

It's easy to remember the girl with the last name Nickerson....we always ask...does she have her nickers on?
Rosemary

ps. I am now anonymous to get past the blogger boycot....

aBroad said...

I admit to naming both of my children names of very very famous people .. Famous in a way , not living ..
One was after a character in a movie that everyone loved .. and the other after a character in a book that almost everyone has at least looked at , some have read and everyone knows this person from that book :)

aBroad said...

There is a blogger boycott ??

Jimmy said...

I went to school with a wee fella by the name of Eddie Murphy. I haven't seen him in ages, I believe he was coming to America.

Happy Frog and I said...

I know a Tom Jones, Tom Cooper, Keith Richards, Howard Jones, Jim Page, Stephen King and that's just for starters! It's a funny old world. Another great post. :-)

Shelly said...

I once taught a girl named Liberty Bell and another girl named Aquanet. Also had a boy named Justin Case.

Made me much more aware when we were picking out names for our own kids!

Silliyak said...

It's good to have a name that doesn't stick out, like Weiner...sorry

Gigi said...

I would have gladly dealt with the torture of being named for someone famous - as long as I didn't have to deal with any of the monikers that some of these famous people dole out to their children!

Julia Johnston *Roberts* said...

Well seeing as my name is Julia Johnston...(kinda like Roberts only I am WAY prettier, and more talented...) It has not bothered me a bit... I am sure she gets asked allllll the time how it is living in my shadow... it must be hard!

aBroad said...

I forgot that I am named after someone famous .. she was born before me .. her father was famous and my mom just liked the name.
The funny thing is , after I married, my last name is similar to hers too ..

Julianna said...

We have a James Bond on the mail route. His house number is 7. :)

We also have a girl named That Phat-Ho (lord help her), a guy named Harry Teets, and of course...

Edward Cullen.

Joanna Jenkins said...

I know a Rabbi who's email address is Rabbi007-- Yeah, he thinks he's pretty cool.
Love this post, Pearly. Hope all's well with you. xo jj

HermanTurnip said...

I've had a dentist named Dr. Grim and another names Michael Myers. Strange, but true!

ShanimalsCrackers.blogspot.com said...

I had a boss whose name was Tim Kruse. Close enough to Tom Cruise, I figured...but they were totally opposite in looks.

Then there was a kid in my graduating class named Will Smith who was white and short. Totally opposite in looks.

River said...

No famous names here, but when I was 14 I was told I looked like Natalie Wood. I couldn't see it myself. When my sister in law was younger, she was the image of Cher, just picture Cher with blonde hair and blue eyes.

Crystal Pistol said...

I giggled at Mr. Sums ( I wish he were real). I also laughed when young MR. Bond was shaken and not stirred. Poor little fella.

This post was funny.

I've got one for ya....

My father's name is Joseph Smith. He was convinced to join the Mormon church largely after he discovered Joseph Smith is the name of the modern-day prophet responsible for translating the book of Mormon. He gets a kick out of all the silly attention he gets regarding his name. He is still a very active Mormon (as am I).

My brother, however, (also called Joseph Smith) left the church at 18 and never looked back. He detests the connection between his name and the church in general.

Dawn @Lighten Up! said...

Sheesh. You get a Bruce Lee, a Tom Cruise and a James Bond, and all I ever got was one lousy Penny Marshall.

Tempo said...

How does it feel to be known worldwide? (for all the RIGHT reasons)

The Jules said...

Always feel sorry for my old friend, who's parents were Star Wars fans. They called him Darth.

Not really.

It was Jabba the Smith.

Tom G. said...

This is EXACTLY the reason why I legally changed my name from Adolf.