Thursday, August 20, 2009

Name Effects

Okay, I admit I hail from a generation where most of us were named for Christian Saints. Good solid Ango Saxon names like Ruth, Sarah, Jennifer, Beatrice, Elizabeth, Katherine, Mary, Ann and even a few with names like Bernadette, Theodora or Mercy.

In the current times , I find myself offending some young women because when they tell me their names I often say, "Tell me again, I am not sure I heard you correctly". I try to recover from the embarassment by responding the second time with soothing statements like, " How unusual, such a lyrical name," or some such.

This month must be my turn to meet folks with different names. Not names like Shamu or Moi or Boxer or K9 because these are avatars not names. I get that. But honestly some of these names I just have difficulty getting my tongue around.

Yesterday I spoke with a woman who finally had to spell her name for me and slowly try to teach me how to say it properly. I felt like quite the dunce but her name is Shirlnan. This is not fiction. The first try I thought she said her name was "Cheryl Ann." This IS the South and double names are popular here so I thought she just had one of those dipped in molasses accents.
Not so. She sweetly corrected me, " No it is Shirlnan". I tried again. Unsuccessfully. God only remembers what I actually did utter. I was then the recipient of one of those looks which means the person looking at you is politely evaluating your intellectual capacity. So, being an efficient person, Shirlnan wrote her name and showed it to me like a flash card and slowly said her name again. " Churlan" is what I heard but God knows if that is right or not.

I actually do believe we are all effected by our names. Remember that old ballad about a boy named Sue? Or the awful story about Ima and Ura Hogg in Texas? I do know a woman who is proud to claim she has never made friends with a woman named "Melanie" because she so disliked the character from Gone With The Wind. Probably just as well for the Melanies.

So back to my month. I met a woman a week or so ago who has this name " S'Ann", it is actually Samantha Ann shortened into a conjunction but is pronounced " Ess Ann".

The strangest of all was a female person who clearly has been effected (or is that affected?)by her name. I am sure her family meant well, probably paying homage to someone much adored or respected. Her name is spelled " Jayknee". She tells me her mother dislikes "nicknames" so declined to name her "Jane" when she was sure her child would be called "Janie", thus the unusual spelling. The intent here was to ensure she would always be called "Janie" and not "Jane". I expect her mother is disappointed because when her co workers shout her name it sounds like " jack knee". She introduces herself that way too. She wears mens clothes, a mans watch, carries a man's wallet in her back pocket , has tats I would never expect to see on a female and sports a military buzz cut. She cleans up construction sites for a living. Underneath all the camo there is an amazingly pretty, shapely, very fit girl who is maybe in her late twenties. She is married and the very proud mother of a 2 year old whose picture she will happily show you on her cell phone. I could not help but wonder to what degree her style was influenced by being called jack rather than jane?

So I am curious, do you have friends or acquaintances with unusual names? Do you have a gracious way of covering your embarasment about someones name besides my inane "lyrical" statement? Do you think at least part of a persons character development is derived from their name, or general reactions to said name? Are you one of them ?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


On the easier than it looks Troll poll, one of the questions was, have you ever written graffiti?

My answer is yes and no. You see I love sidewalk chalk! It's just so Mary Poppins you know?
Remember when Mary and Burt the chimney sweep "pop" through a chalk drawing and the movie combines animation with real actors? That was the first time I can remember seeing that mix and I was young enough to have been enthralled.

Later in life, when in Europe, I walked through an arty district where artists were recreating classics from Botticelli, Raphael, Michaelangelo and even a few dark and broody Caravaggios with sidewalk chalk in the square. The art was stunning. Obviously they were dependent on donations from the tourists for their days work. Imagine having 'Graffiti Artist' as you regular job? I certainly made a donation but I thought at the time if I had artistic talent enough to recreate a Botticelli in sidewalk chalk .... why not a more permanent and mobile medium? I think money is the answer, lots of tourists were as impressed as I. Once the chalk image stopped being a crowd pleaser, an artist would just dip her bucket in the fountain and those incredible images vanished! Soon as that patch of sidewalk dried a new "graffiti" was begun. I might also add the speed of acomplishing a recognizable image was quite impressive. I could have happily gone there every day and never have gotten bored. A part of me even yearned for that er, vocation.

We all know there have been many "graffiti" themed art shows and sales which gets me to this curious point. Is it actually graffiti if it is mobile or you can wash it away with the hose?

Certainly when Mermaid was still at the Pond we often indulged ouselves by using our tennis court as the location of choice for some very large scale sidewalk chalk art. I always wanted us to do a huge scaley dragon that spanned end to end of the court but we never got to it. This was a pretty daunting ambition because you have to do it in one shot because chalk is temporary. Even a good morning dew can erase your art. And a tennis court is a HUGE canvas for just two people to cover. We once spoke of having a dragon party that never came to be. I just had marvelous visions of giggleing little girls all working on various dragon parts and then a great photograph at the end of all the girls with their dragon....followed by the girls playing in the sprinkler in bathing suits to "clean" the tennis court. Sigh.

I do get my sidewalk chalks out often and to tell the truth I often give them to children as gifts. They are such a great incentive for nurturing the child within us at all ages. I sometimes chalk a fishy in front of our mailbox or up at the back drive because our place can be hard to find. I'd rather do a chalk drawing than put a stick in the ground with balloons attached. ( Although I have done that too in the years Mermaid pleaded for me to be like the other Moms) And also because you cannot see chalk drawings after dark.

So now I am wondering. Is sidewak chalk drawings or commentary "graffiti" ?
And my other curiosity is this,
What would you graffiti?

when you answer this please remember this is a family rated pond!