My name is Lloyd, but you can call me dude
By By Lloyd Albritton
Parents usually give a lot of thought to naming a newborn baby. Some spend months laboring over the myriad possibilities and make their final decision only at the very last minute. Parents do their best to give each of their children a unique name that can be carried proudly for a lifetime.
At least most parents do. Some obviously don't. In fact, I have known people with names which could not have been given much thought at all. For example, I wonder what was going through Mr. and Mrs. Carey's minds when they named their baby boy Harry. And how much imagination did it take for Mr. and Mrs. Roberts to name their son Little Robert? Boxer George Foreman named all his children George. I mean, gimme a break! How about a little creativity, huh?
Others seem to belabor the task in their efforts to give their child a name which will be absolutely unique. Unique is fine, but who wants to go through life with a name like Algonquin? There are lots of people who do not like the high falutin names they were given by their parents. These often adopt a nickname which may or may not be a derivative of their real name. Algonquin would almost certainly become known as just plain Al. James is usually Jim, Robert is called Bob, Charles is Chuck, and for some ungodly reason, Henry ends up being called Hank and John becomes Jack. Go figure!
Then there are those who are commonly known by pet nicknames which have no relationship to their real names at all. There are probably more Buddys in the world than there are Johns. And you can be pretty sure that Hotshot and Buckshot and Bubba are not listed on the county voting records by those names. My old friend, Clayton Hall, says his business associates now call him Flash, but the kids in his Sunday School class call him Uncle Bo. Either one of these names fits Clayton's persona well, and I like them, but when I talk to Clayton he still looks like Clayton to me and that's what I call him.
I get a kick out of twins' names too. Isn't it bad enough that these kids will have to go through life looking alike and sharing everything? Must their parents also give them cute matching names? I went to school with two fellas who were identical twins named Ronnie and Donnie. I never could tell them apart, so I just called each of them Ronnie-and-Donnie. I ran into Ronnie-and-Donnie (actually, it was just one of them I ran into) years later. "I never could tell you fellas apart," I told him. "I never knew which of you was Ronnie and which was Donnie."
Ronnie-and-Donnie laughed and replied, "You know something Lloyd, that was always a problem for us. We finally had to change our names to correct that situation,"
"Really?" I said. "What did you boys change your names to?"
"We go by Joe and Jerry now," Ronnie-and-Donnie replied with just as serious a look on his face as I ever saw on a grown man.
In America it is traditional to give our children two front names. This practice is intended to improve identification and record keeping. If we consider three little boys all named Billy, for example, it is helpful to know that one is named Billy Bob, another is Billy Jack, and the third is Billy Rex. The fact that we have in America about a billion Billy Rays would indicate that there are a lot of parents out there who just don't understand what we are trying to get done here. The name Billy Ray in America is about as common as Mohammad in Saudia Arabia.
This tradition we have of giving our children two front names also has other ramifications. Sometimes people go through their early lives answering to one of their names, then switch to the other one when they grow up. When he was a young man, my cousin Eddie Leon Tullis was known as Leon. Now he is Eddie. Another cousin of mine, James Edward Raines, was always called Eddie when we were growing up together. Now he insists on being Jim. My old school classmate, Wendell Rigby, is now the head of a prestigious law firm and his colleagues and clients know him as Jessie, the other name he always had that nobody knew about. I never knew what these fellows' second names were to begin with, so they could have changed their names to Mohammad as far as I'm concerned and it wouldn't be any more stressful for me than it is already.
I never liked my own name too much. My second name is Clark, and I don't like that one any better than I do the front one. There is not much you can do to jive up a name like Lloyd Clark. I always wanted to be a Jimmy, a Bobby, a Tommy or a Johnny, but you just can't get there from Lloyd Clark. My Daddy called me Slick when I was a little boy and later in life when I grew a pencil mustache some other people wanted to call me Slick because they said I looked like a slickster. I didn't like the connotation of that nickname too much and I didn't encourage it. Still, I wish I had a nickname that was cooler than Lloyd Clark. I'm working on that, but until I come up with something more permanent, it'll be alright if ya'll just want to call me "Dude!"
Lloyd Albritton is an independent columnist for the Atmore Advance. He can be reached by e-mail at LloydAlbritton@aol.com, or by telephone at (850)384-6676.