I'm changing my name.
I'm not ashamed of who I am, and am only slightly ashamed of my family, but my name is flatly unacceptable. Even when pronounced correctly, the nasality of the opening letter and the subsequent tendency to give the vowells a midwestern shortening makes the whole thing rather unattractive. Nobody can say it right without hearing it. It's a great way to weed out telemarketers, but sadly when people finally say it right, I realize I wish they hadn't.
It is an uncommon name, to be sure, and you would think the particularity advantage would overrule the sonic defects, but it doesn't. I've always hated the sound of it. (I'll admit that for two years in Quebec, I loved the way the French said it. But I can't get people to say it that way here. I can't even bring myself to ask people to say it that way.)
Everything else aside, my father was adopted. We are grateful to the people who raised him, but their name gives us no indication of where we are from, or what genetic predispositions we may have. I feel no connection to it. People hear it and say "Interesting. Where does a name like that come from?" I always want to say, "I actually don't care." But I can't bring myself to say that. So now the name has a multiplicity of distinct disadvantages, number one being the constant reminder of my conversational impotence.
A certain amount of excitement prevailed when Dad found his birth mother. Her family name was Tosch. I instantly thought: "Now there's a name I can use." It's authoritative and efficient. Crisp even. Say it with me: Tosch. See what I mean? It's infinitely better. So at the big reunion, I asked her where it was from, hoping to introduce the idea of me acquiring the name. She didn't know. She was adopted, too. She had kept the name out of gratitude and had a healthy disdain for the idea of seeking out her birth parents. When I asked her if she had any idea of the birth name, she said: "I've always been a Tosch." Easy for her to say. I instantly formulated Plan B: the bio-dad's name. Surely she must remember the last name of the man who fathered her first and newly discovered child. "I try not to think about him," she said, "he had no honor."
Such are the petty depths I've achieved. I crave the name of a man with no honor, convinced before even hearing it that it has got to be better than the one I've been stuck with.
Friends don't get it. They put the topic in the same reject bin to which they relegate my regular explorations into breaking my legs to increase my height. But I mention it to them anyway.
"What if the guy's name was Buttkowski?" they ask, "or Humperdinck, or Balzac?" I don't dignify their rhetorical nay-saying with a reply. I know there is a better name for me out there, and until a reliable source tells me that his name was Skidstain, and that he was adopted anyway, my hope will spring eternal. Just need to find a way to get my new Grandma to talk, or remember.
But in the meantime, we get by with a little help from our friends, even when they are just trying to make a point. "I've got an idea," says JayDiggity over lunch, "You should change your name to Dammit."
He had my attention.
"Think of the possibilities!"
My mind was instantly whirling. I mean, it had no connection to my family line, but neither does my current one, and think fo the Pizazz!
"Who wrote this?" I could hear people asking. "What do you mean who wrote it? It was Scott, Dammit!" or "He was a rather pleasant fellow, what was his name again?"
I could go on. Like what if I joined the Army? "NAME, RANK, AND CEREAL NUMBER!" the Sargeant would shout.
"Dammit, Sir, Private first class, 14526371!"
The possibilities are endless. It's a name with a party in it. I was ready to draw up the papers.
Until I realized my initials would then spell "SKiD". As it is, "SKiN" is accepted as my current acronym. (My initials giving the SKN, with an "i" for "idiot," or "insert affectation here.") SKiD is OBVIOUSLY, SUPREMELY unacceptable.
So here I am back at square one. A name I don't like; legs two inches shorter than God, the Universe, or Mother Nature intended; and no foreseeable way out of either unacceptable situation.
Luckily, I long ago stopped asking when I'm gonna catch a break.