Named, not branded

My parents named me. Their inspiration came from a few sources. They had decided on my name before I entered the world. They also had a female name ready to adorn the birth certificate, as back in the old days, parents did not know the sex of the child until after birth. Unlike other parents that I have known and met, my parents simply bounced names off each other until arriving at a name they preferred. They did not wait to see the newborn me before assigning identification. They did not ascribe mystical or magical powers to divine the correct choice. They did not consult books or reference materials. They simply talked - throwing out suggestions as they raised my older brother and made a living.

I had no say in the matter, and live with the consequence of some time-filling activity practiced over a few months many years ago. I am not resentful of my name; I enjoy it to the extent that one can enjoy a name. It identifies me to people - hello, this is Greg.

Does a name identify the person? Do you have a prejudiced idea of what a Greg looks like? Is a Gregory less masculine than a Greg? Does Greg possess the charisma and charm to woo and beguile the ladies (or men, as if the preference)? Would you trust Gregory before Greg?

The first name is Gregory - my mother simply liked the name. There is a Saint Gregory and plenty of famous Gregories (Gregory Hines, for example). Saint Gregory, a former prefect of Rome in the sixth century A.D., shaped the structure and character of what would become the Roman Catholic Church. I have yet to live up to the lofty heights established by this namesake. I cannot dance, either, so I fall behind the other mentioned namesake. People do shorten my name and few that I can recall choose to use the full name when addressing me or talking about me in or away from my presence. I do not detest my full name. Most commonly, people call me Greg. A short name and easy to pronounce, I did not suffer through the tortuous embarrassment of hearing my name mispronounced by the teacher on the first day of school. Greg. Anyone can say it and it lacks the ability to contort into a taunt or oath.

Campbell - my middle name is a family name. My maternal grandmother's family emigrated from Scotland (with a quick stop in Ireland to ascend to middle class, as is the family lore) to the Colonies in the mid-1700s. They settled in western Pennsylvania, becoming farmers and merchants. Not coincidently, I became the unannounced favorite of my maternal grandmother. I reminded her of her father - quiet and educated, a farmer who toiled in the fields for long hours each days, buoyed by his faith and family. I do not shy away from hard work, but I do not seek it. I believe in a higher power and purpose, but I do not celebrate it. I am quiet, so that must be the connection.

My name is not a proud title or a burdensome legacy of some ill-thought sobriquet that two people adorned a new born some thirty-odd years past. I do not feel the need to change my name. I do not feel the desire to be another name, though becoming another person is a thought that crosses the mind every so often. Who I am is not tied to the name.

The End

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