Saturday, March 3, 2007

What's in a Name?

I changed my name when I was fifteen. I wasn’t in any kind of trouble, I just didn’t like the person I had become.

That's not quite right. I simply didn't like the image I had of myself. I saw myself as timid and too easily given to tears. I was wishy-washy and didn't know my own mind. (Few fifteen-year-old really do, but I didn't know that.)

In one sense, my name didn’t really matter. I was living in a new state, and the friends I made knew nothing of my imperfect past. I was free to reinvent myself.

The new name was for my benefit.

Anyway, it was easy to make the change. Up until then, everyone had called me Fred. From then on, I would be Al. Since the name on my birth certificate is Alfred, no paperwork was required.

Did it make a difference? I don't really know. I chose Al because it sounded more sophisticated to me at age 15. But I don't feel any more sophisticated at 52, and it doesn't really matter to me anymore.

Well, not much.

I'm certainly not the small-town boy I once was, and I can't imagine living in a small town again. On the other hand, I still have a sister who calls me Fred and I like how it sounds. Friendly and unpretentious. Qualities I'd like to accentuate.