Real Name

Marcellus’ real name was Mark.

He didn’t like Mark, though. So, when he applied to university, he listed his name as “Marcellus”, an attempt to Romanize his name and cause some head-scratching. He was met with no questions, no requests for further information. He was simply accepted, with a decent scholarship.

So Mark went to university, and everyone he met called him Marcellus.

From there, it was grad school, where he had to retain the old joke due to transcripts and recommendations. And from there, he was already known as Marcellus, rather than Mark, so he needed to wait until he was comfortably employed before he could tell anyone.

Thus, on his 50th birthday, Marcellus returned to Mark, and was soon disowned by many friends and colleagues, while he laughed and laughed.

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A Car Named Darryl

“I’ve decided to name him Darryl,” Travis said.

“Darryl? Why Darryl?” Darryl asked. “That’s my name.”

“I know it is. But you’re a good guy, and it’s a good name, so I’ll call my car Darryl. He’ll never let me down.”

“Thanks buddy. But aren’t we supposed to name them with women’s names? Some kind of subtle, like, sexual thing or something? Patriarchy and all that?”

“Naw. I mean, you can. But not for me. I’m going with Darryl.”

“Okay. Sure, yeah, that makes sense I guess. But, I mean, you never expressed those kind of feelings for me or anything. We’re both married.”

“Yeah. I know.”

“Okay then.”

“Yup. Want a ride?”

“Uh, sure, yeah.”

Names

“Can I have your name please?”

“Anne.”

“Pan?”

“No, Anne. Like Green Gables.”

“Man? I don’t know a Man Green Gables.”

“No, Anne. A-N-N-E. Like Frank.”

“Your name is Frank?”

“Ugh, no! It’s Anne!”

“Okay, I’ve heard Pan twice now, so I’m assuming it’s that.”

“Sure, fine.”

“Last name?”

“Smith.”

“Pith?”

“Yes, I’m Pan Pith. I can change this all online, right?”

“Yes, of course Ms. Pith.”

Crisis at the Records Office

“And you are?” the clerk asked without looking up.

“Well,” Karl said, “that’s an interesting question. I mean, my name right now is Karl Apel. That’s Karl with a K, of course. But I’m here for a name change, because I don’t like my name. So am I still Karl? Is my legal name my only name? Is a rose still a rose if it’s not called a rose? These are the questions I’ve been asking myself lately, you know?”

“Mmhm. I getcha. But your legal name right now is Karl Apel? K-A-R-L, A-P-L-E?”

“A-P-E-L, actually,” Karl said.

“Okay. Here’s your number. Take a seat over there, and please sort out any existential issues prior to being called by the next available agent. Next please.”

Karl stood and went to sit in the waiting area.

New Name

“Meghan Yoon?”

Meghan stepped forward. “Here, sir.”

“Okay, what name would you like this year?”

“Can I keep the same one?”

“No. You must change your name today. You know the rules, everyone changes their name once per year.”

“But why though?”

The clerk sighed. “One every year,” he muttered. “Because that’s how things have been done, and how they need to continue. Because the new Renaming Act of 2035 sets out how everyone must change their name, once per year, in order to ensure that no name becomes better than others. And because if you don’t, you’ll be fined and face possible prison time.”

“But I don’t think it’s a good law. It doesn’t help anyone. It just makes everyone confused about who they are, and I think might be a means of con – ”

“Ms. Yoon, you have five second to choose a new name, or I’ll call security and you can deal with it that way.”

“Okay, um, is Chantal Broady taken?”

“No, congratulations Chantal. Next please.”

Chantal left the office, still uncertain about this. The clerk flagged her file.

A Good Question

“I’ve decided, ” Blake said.

“On?” said Mellisa.

“A name.”

“A name for what?”

“For my car, obviously.”

“Oh, right, of course,” Mellisa said, giving him a look that said it wasn’t obvious.

“So?” said Blake.

“So what?”

“Aren’t you going to ask what it is?”

Mellisa sighed and said, “Okay, what’s the name?”

“Valerie.”

“And why Valerie?”

“Because it’s such a sexy name. It rolls around the mouth and off the tongue.”

“Ah. And you need a sexy name for your little beater of a car?”

“Yeah. How else will I feel masculine and shit?”

“Good question, Blake. A very good question indeed.”

Pronunciation

“Sorry, what’s your name?” John asked.

“Deep-all,” Dipal said, pronouncing it slowly.

“Great, nice to meet you Dipol,” John held out his hand. Dipal cringed at the pronunciation, but shook the hand anyway. “What brings you to this little shindig?”

“Here for networking, meeting people in the field, that kind of thing.”

“Ah, yes, good plan Dipol,” John said. These networking events are always so good, right?”

“Yes, I’m told they are. Hopefully it will be useful.”

“I’m sure it will, Dipol.”

Dipal pursed his lips, wondering why his interlocutor insisted on continuing to say his name, and to say it that way.

“Any big plans for tomorrow, Dipol?” John said. “There are some great presentations happening on inter-office synergizing, I know.”

“Um, yes, I suppose so. Excuse me, I need to go and, uh, register.”

“Oh sure, the table is right over there, Dipol,” John pointed.

“Thank you,” Dipal said, happy to be leaving the man, and the conversation, behind.

A Boy Named Sue

“Hey Sue, how’s things?” Vincent asked.

Sue looked up from his work and grimaced. “How’s things? Hardly a grammatically correct sentence, Vincent,” he said.

“This from the man named Sue?” Vincent grinned, thinking himself original.

Sue’s grimace deepened. “Ha ha. How drole.”

“Wasn’t it?”

“I’ll have you know, Susan was, at one point, a name for both males and females.”

“Well, it’s currently a name for women, Sue. Why not change it?”

“Why should I change, it’s society that sucks.”

“Indeed. Hey, was that – ”

Sue put his pen down with a slap. “- song by Johnny Cash written about me? No. Do I look old enough for that? Because if you say yes, I’ll slap you into tomorrow.”

“Ooh. Someone’s a little touchy. That time of the month?”

Sue took a deep breath, and appeared visibly calmer. Inside, though, the storm grew in intensity, and he started: “Aside from the rampant sexism prevalent in your statement, Vincent, the fact of the matter is that yes, I do become rather annoyed when people pick on, or apart, my name. It is a name. It is the name that was given to me. I have taken ownership of it, at least insofar as it is an indicator of who I am. While you may find great mirth in that, you do need to pay more attention to my reactions, which were ones of disapproval at your mockery. I do not enjoy the constant repetitions of the same jokes about my name. If you want to have fun with it – and in the right occasion, which is not now, I don’t mind if you do – then please, at the very least, think of something more original.”

Vincent stood for a moment, stunned by the diatribe, before he knocked on Sue’s desk and said, “Well, okay then. Have a good lunch, Sue.”

“Thanks, Vin.”

Vincent cringed as he walked away, and Sue smiled, knowing the hate Vincent had for any shortening of his name.

What’s in a Name?

“Phylis, what are you doing?”

Phylis looked up from her book to see Robyn standing over her, blocking the light.

“What do you mean?” Phylis asked.

“Why the baby name book?”

“Oh! That. Um. Not what it looks like.” Phylis quickly closed the book, blushing.

Robyn sat down beside her. “Really? Cuz it looks like you’re choosing a baby name.”

“I’m not. Just looking for a, uh, new name.”

“For your baby?”

Phylis smacked her friend on the arm. “For myself.”

“Why? What’s wrong with Phylis?”

“I sound like some kind of disease!”

“No you don’t, Phylis is a great name.”

“Say that when you’re learning about syphilis in health class.”

“That was like, a decade and a half ago.”

“Still traumatic.”

Robyn sighed. “I like your name. I think it’s fine, and no one thinks of an STI when they say it.”

“Yes they do. And the ones that don’t think of their grandma. I need a new name,” Phylis reopened her book and stuck her nose deep within.

“Well, choose carefully, then.” Robyn pushed herself to her feet.

“How about Robyn? I like Robyn.”

“I like me too, but it’s my name. You can’t have it.”

“Robyn it is. I like it. Good ring to it. Lots of good memories. Thanks Robyn!” Phylis stood, handed the book to her friend, and walked away, a happy bounce to her step.

Robyn sighed, sat down, and started flipping through the book.

Leaving Jed Behind

“My life as Jedidiah began simply enough. My parents were good little WASPs in a good little village. They were born there, they grew up there. They were high school sweethearts, got married right after graduation, got jobs. Straight out of the 50s. It’s a weird town.

“So they named me after my great great great great grandfather. They thought it was a strong name. A good name. Growing up in the late 90s and early 2000s was terrible. Jedidiah? That’s an old person’s name. It’s hard to say. It gets shortened to “Jed”. And it’s one of the Bushes. Blech.

“Anyway, when I got to university, everyone thought I was this Luddite Amish kid, off on his little outing into the world. Or they thought I was some small town hick who knew nothing, hated minorities, and believed the market should be free in everything except for people. No one wanted to be my friend. Professors asked if I could come help them raise a barn, or how I had perfected time travel. It sucked.

“So off I went to the courthouse. I changed my name to Nick. I grew a beard over the summer, right before growing beards was cool. I even got some glasses, though I didn’t actually need them. I came back, and everyone thought I was someone else. It worked like a charm. Suddenly I was popular, I went on dates, and things were ideal.

“I left Jedidiah behind, and became Nick. My parents threatened to disown me, so I stayed away for a couple of years. They called me one day, we had it out, and now things are fine. I go home once a year for a couple of days. Everyone in town calls me by my old name. I’m someone else briefly. Then I come back to the real world, and I can be myself again.

“So that’s my story. A bad name, mostly left behind. I didn’t expect anyone else from home to be…well, out of there. Everyone stays. It’s just how the town is.

“I’m happy not to be Jedidiah. It’s nice to see you, Stanton, but while we’re out here, I’m Nick. Please, don’t call me anything else.”