I was invited to a college class this week to talk about my memoir. The class was about childhood trauma and authenticity. Not a very comical topic, but the professor saw a write-up about me in the local newspaper and had the students buy my book as required reading for her class. She asked me if I would come to the class so her students could meet the author and ask me questions–something they couldn’t do with the authors of their other required readings, many who were long dead or otherwise unavailable.
One of the questions a student asked me was, “Why do you think the meanings of names is so important?”
I really had to think about that one. I do think names carry weight, and I clearly indicated that in my book–even my book’s subtitle (The Adventures of a Girl Whose Name Means Lost). But why?
–Overactive childhood imagination that never turned off?
–Brilliantly insightful observation by an intelligent blonde?
I answered her with something like, “I just always felt in my gut that names carried with them some kind clue about the person. There are names that seem to command respect and others that seem nerdy; names that are unusual and names that forgettable. I always noticed when a name seemed to fit or not fit a person.” She seemed satisfied.
But I kept thinking about it. Do our names shape our lives?
Take, for example, this political ad I saw on a trip I made in 2010. Maybe a man with this last name should not be running for political office.
And think about these people who ended up in the following professions (these are real people):
–Sue Yoo is a lawyer.
–Ted F. Kadivar, MD is a general surgeon.
–Brad Slaughter is the meat manager in a grocery store.
–David Spitz, DDS is a dentist.
Do you know someone whose name is just too ironic for the profession they are in? Please share!