A Rose by Any Other Name

When I was growing up it felt like I had a very common name, reinforced later in life by running into women at my age with my name.  Turns out while in the top 100, it was in the bottom 10%.  That’s pretty low down, let’s face it, there aren’t all that many names to begin with. It’s like what to make for dinner, when you have to do it every night you wish there were more animals we could eat just for the variety.  Then you go to Asia and realize that no you don’t.

Anyway, back in the 60s unusual names were more uncommon, if that’s not redundant and the unusual ones were less unusual.  There was the occasional “Siobhan” but not very often “Cozy” (although I did know one of these so maybe that’s a bad example).

My best friend growing up had my same name and it was a big laugh to call our name and see us both turn around. I don’t know why – does this show the simple mindedness of children or ease at which one finds humor in youth? To make matters worse our parent thought it would be a hoot one year if we both got the same hideous multi colored shoes. The early 70s, ugh, where were the fashionistas then? I never particularly liked my name and it doesn’t lend itself to nicknames so we were pretty well stuck.  I think at some point someone made a nickname of her last name but it wasn’t cute or endearing and I’m pretty sure she never really liked it much. They tried to make a nickname for me but it was beyond lame and that never stuck either. I think in a stoned haze we all tried to give ourselves nicknames and when the pot wore off 3 years later we realized how incredibly stupid there were; Len, Rick, Squiggy, Fed (one of those is fake – yes – only 1, you see? the power of dope). I now have a day of the week as a nickname.  It’s less stupid than it sounds and no, it’s not Wednesday Addams, thanks anyway.

That’s kind of a non-sequitor, non prequitor? to what follows, just a little background as to why I notice some of things I do – and I bet this isn’t the first time you’ve wondered about that.

As common as names are it wasn’t shocking to find myself with a handful of people I know who have the same name. Needless to say when one encounters as many people as I do there’s going to be some name overlap. When I lived in Senegal Amadou was a big one and of course in France there’s the ubiquitous Jacques.  The most common men’s name over time is Michael here in the good ol’ US of A but for some reason I ran into a lot of Franks, and no, that’s not a euphemism for anything else. In fact, many of them were from outside the US making it a popular name ‘over there’, wherever that may be. 

Now I never had trouble keeping my men straight but a friend at the time kept saying, wait, which one was this? So finally I started to give them numbers. That might seem odd but back in the day when there was John Cooper, John Mason, John Fletcher, no one thought it was odd to differentiate one from another by one’s job.  It just seemed easier than John The Blonde with the Bug Eyes who Lives next to Suzy with the Torn Apron and 7 Kids.  So for simplicity numbers just seemed more practical than Frank Construction guy and while I didn’t know this at the time, there would be occupational overlap which didn’t happen so much in a village of 60 people in rural England. So numbers they got.

Out of the current 5 three were always only friends, 1 moved to California and 1 got lost track of  although I’m pretty sure which tree I could find him under (not beneath) if I needed to.  Because I’m getting older and more senile rejiggering the whole number thing any time there’s a status shift became too complicated so they’ve retained their numbers and friends who know them now by their numbers – ugh – I can’t even imagine having to explain a new numbering system! There was a Frank who would have been number 6 but turned out he wasn’t number-worthy. I know you may be thinking, what, number-worthy, and unlike Elaine’s sponges (for those of you for whom that reference is obscure google: Seinfeld)  numbers are infinite , but one still needs to earn it.  So for the moment it’s been at a standstill at 5.

I won’t go into each one but Frank #3 is worth mention.

I was having one of those, Natalie Wood “I’m so pretty ….” days without the singing and dancing. They don’t happen often and if you’ve ever had one you know it attracts men like flies to …. Let’s just say those are the days men stop you on the street and ask you for your number. Phone number, not name number, that’s only me and MY weirdness.  As I was waiting outside Starbucks for a coffee meet and greet, this guy walks by and gives me the check over and goes inside. Mr. Date-Not-Date shows up and we sit down.  He was dull dull dull but over his shoulder this other guy is looking at me. And I’m looking back.  Somehow, on the way out, I slipped him a card because what the heck. No guts no glory, I wrote on the back because mostly that’s my MO in life. In college I used to send guys drinks at the bar.  Not often but for the shock factor of it was fun and once in a while it would blossom into something, a funny conversation if nothing else and you know how much I cherish a funny conversation. Even back then (wow…the seeds of the madness….) was always worth the $5.  That’s how old I am. A drink cost $5.  

So back to 2010 when drinks are $15, I went home, got changed and realized my nephew and his ravenous friends were arriving later so I ran out to buy food for my otherwise empty cupboards.  Standing there on the street was Mr. Gut/Glory having a smoke and we stopped and talked.  Next thing I knew, we were going out. Turned out he had a BBQ fetish and I had a BBQ, so had I been labeling them and not numbering them he would have been Frank Barbeque. It’s not often I have the actual object of fetish. I mean I have feet, for the guy who had a foot fetish but I’m pretty sure mine wouldn’t be up to snuff.  And as for the rest of them – as they say – let’s just not go there. So after quite a few BBQs, I mean every date started with “Hey, how about I pick up some [fill in the dead animal blank and here’s where fortunately we don’t live in Asia] …” I started to wonder and of course, I got my answer. Unfortunately, I found out, had I used the last name as personality/occupation adjective/noun he would have been Frank Antidepressant Drugs (middle name).  Or Frank Antidepressants Turned Recreational Drugs (baptism names).  ).  Or Frank Antidepressants Turned Recreational Year of the Bong Drugs (includes Chinese name).  Turns out he was in Starbucks killing his time before his shrink who was on the block and he was on the block daily.  No guts, no glory.  He’s since moved to the west coast and while he’s still #3 to me, out there with these other last names, he’ll be just one in a million – kind of like a guy who’s last name is Smith. 


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