“Hi, I’m Alex, nice to meet you.” Alex stood in shorts and a button-down shirt, holding a hand out.
“Hi Alex, nice to meet you,” his interlocutor replied, shaking his hand.
“Sorry, I didn’t catch your name,” Alex said.
The man sighed, smoothed his trousers, scratched under his short-sleeved t-shirt, then said. “It’s Courtney.”
“Courtney?” Alex said, trying not to smile.
“Yes, Courtney,” Courtney replied.
“Isn’t that, like – ”
“A girl’s name? Yes. Sometimes. Or at least, it is now. Interestingly, it was a man’s name, back in the fifteenth century.”
“But we’re – ”
“Not in the fifteenth century, I know.” Courtney said. “It is how it is.”
“Well, very interesting.”
“So I’m told.”
“I guess you have to deal with that a lot, huh?”
“All the time,” Courtney said, pursing his lips. “Mostly from men. Usually I get some questions and giggles. Every once in a while, some douche will be douche-y. But you know, you have to do what you have to do.”
Alex smiled empathetically. “I’m sorry to hear that. I suppose it was worse as a kid, huh?”
“In junior high and high school, yeah. Elementary was fine. People used to ask if my parents hated me or something, but really they were just big Ren Fair geeks.”
“Renaissance? Like to dress up and pretend it’s olden days, only without all the plagues and feudalism and such.”
“Right. Well. Nice to meet you Courtney.”
“You too, Alex.”
They shook hands. Alex walked away, and Courtney sighed, another networking opportunity lost. He considered once again changing his name, but soon abandoned that. If other people couldn’t handle it, he thought, better not to associate. He wondered, then, when his parents’ words of wisdom would finally wear off.