What’s In A Name?

my name is

When we are born we are given a name.  Our parents select it and we live with it for the rest of our lives.  So what’s in a name?

It’s the first thing we tell people when we meet them.  It’s printed on our business cards.  It’s on our drivers licence.  It’s how we find people on Facebook.  For our entire lives it is our identifier.

My given names are Susan Mary.  My parents are British and, as such, chose traditional names for all of their children.  My brother’s names are Andrew Paul and my sister’s names are Cynthia Helen.  Not sure how she got the exotic name.  You know your from a boring name family when “Cynthia” is considered exotic.

My mom’s name is Jane.  Just Jane.

Last week at work I had to contact some clients to follow up on their accounts.  A couple of the names I came across were Francois Chevallier and Fantasha Kassam.  I imagined Fantasha answering the phone in flowing robes surrounded by candles and exotic looking furniture.  Casbah music playing in the background and perhaps a strange animal or bird following her around.  Francois probably has his assistant answer the phone for him while he adjusts his ascot in the mirror and pours himself a goblet of red wine.  The names, for me, emote images of glamour, mystery and excitement.  I lead a fairly sheltered life.


Of course there are also those endowed with what can only be called “unfortunate” names.  When my husband lived in Memphis years ago there was a player on the local baseball team named Stubby Clap.  I would consider that unfortunate.  When I googled unfortunate names their was no shortage.  Just to name a few.  Dick Assman, Uranius Johnson, Phat Ho and Yolanda Squatpump.  I did, for a moment, wonder if some of these were fabricated.  But if they weren’t…..whoa.  The ability to legally change your name was created specifically for these people.

But maybe….they don’t mind their names.  What’s to say that they don’t look at my boring name and think. “How does she live with that name?”

Plenty of famous people who have changed their names for the sake of their careers.  Elton John was once Reginald Dwight.  Marilyn Monroe was Norma Jean Mortenson.  Faith Hill was Audrey Perry.  What do you think their parents thought about these changes.  Did they wonder why the names that they had pick for their kids weren’t good enough?  Faith Hill is a lovely name.  But so is Audrey Perry.

If you had an opportunity to change your name, would you?  To what?  Why?  I remember a friend in high school who wanted to change her name to Angie.  Who wouldn’t want Mick Jagger signing about you?

It would seem that what’s in a name is different for everybody.  The Best Thing in Life is my name.  Because it’s my name.



A Musical Journey

musical notes

Its Sunday afternoon and I’m standing in my kitchen planning what I need to do next week and listening to Bruce Springsteen’s Brilliant Disguise. It’s taking me back to a crazy weekend in Kelowna in the early ’90s. Music, like smell, can take you to a place or time you may have long forgotten even existed. It can wrap you in a warm blanket or make you want to sing into your hairbrush. Indulge me while I take a walk down memory lane.

As I’ve mentioned before, my parents are British. Very British. Growing up, the musical selections where typically classical. The exception was Caribbean steel band music. My dad had spent some time working in Dominica and had grown to love their music. In particular the band The Merrimen and their classic tune Big Bamboo. The only time things got crazy at our house was when Katie and Walter Mees came for dinner and the Merrimen was put on the turntable. Dining room table pushed back and everybody let loose; well, as loose as they could get. “She said Sparrow all I want from you, I want from you Is a little little piece baby, just a little little piece of the big bamboo.” Really Dad?

The Rolling Stones somehow encapsulated my entire high school graduating year. It wasn’t even new music. These were songs that had come out ten years earlier. I remember Mary, Deana and Laurie got to sing back up for the guys in the band. They were the cool chicks who could sing and I was so jealous. I did, however, get my moment, except it was a group of us dancing in a big circle singing Shattered at the top of our lungs. Close enough. The Stones seemed to be everywhere that year. Parties, school and even by way of early morning guitar solos in our Palm Springs condo. Thank you John and Graham.

James Taylor will forever mean summer camp on Orcas Island. Warm summer days hanging out on the dock. Sailing trips through the islands to sleep under the stars. Nightly fires in the lodge with a couple of hundred young voices singing their hearts out. All accompanied by a guitar played by a cute counsellor from California. What more could an eighteen year old want? If it wasn’t James Taylor it was Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Oh, and there was that one day after camp spent jumping on Theresa’s cousins trampoline to Freebird. That ones a little foggier than the rest.

Banff. Early eighties. Was there any other band being played beside Duran Duran? I think not.

Sade takes me back to the beaches of Greece. We were staying on the island of Paros. Kathryn and I had been touring the islands with a group of six or seven Aussies, a Kiwi and an American (I think). For any of you who have spent any time in the Greek islands in your twenties you know that it can be an endless cycle of late night ouzo fueled parties followed by lazy days recovering from said parties. It was late in the day and the batteries in my Walkman were getting low but I couldn’t resist one last song as the sun started to set on the harbour. That is my happy place. Sade and I soaking up the warm Greek sun.

Okay, here’s a really funny one. Yanni. Ya, you heard me. Yanni. When I left my ex-husband, I stayed with my mom and dad for a few months. During that time they went on a long planned trip to India. My son was really little, I didn’t go out much and funds were pretty right. As a result, I was held hostage by my parents limited collection of tapes. Yes, tapes. So the least offensive choice was Yanni. Listening to it now takes me back to their living room, playing with the baby on the floor and wondering what the hell I was going to do. It was mindless and calming. Just what I needed.

When my current husband and I started dating, Harry Conick Jr. was pretty much all we listened too. It’s probably the most romantic period of my life. Candle lit dinners, roses and bubble baths were a regular occurance. My husband had gone to school in New Orleans (where Harry is from) and was a big fan. Additionally, one of the first movies we saw together was Hope Floats in which Harry Connick Jr. plays Sandra Bullocks very hot boyfriend. Although he can’t hold a candle to my husband, if I needed a stand in, Harry would do.

So there you go. The Best Things in Life always have a soundtrack.