My name is Lloyd, but y’all can call me ‘Dude!’
Published 2:28 pm Tuesday, October 24, 2023
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 matches the child’s personality and 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 Mr. and Mrs. Carey were thinking when they named their baby boy Harry. And what about boxer George Foreman, who named each of his six sons George and one of his six daughters Georgette?
Others seem to overthink the matter, desiring to give their children names that are a little too unique. Unique is fine, but who wants to go through life with a name like Algonquin or Aloysius? People often don’t like the names their parents gave them and they adopt nicknames or even entirely different names. For example, Algonquin and Aloysius would almost certainly become known as simply Al. James becomes Jim, Robert goes by Bob, Charles is Chuck, John is Jack, and for some strange reason, Henry becomes Hank. Go figure!
Then there are those who are commonly known by pet nicknames which have no relationship to their real names at all. My father’s name was Marion Howard, but the world knew him as “Bud.” Little boys have long been summoned by their parents by the pet name Bud, or Buddy, and it sticks for life. Younger siblings sometimes refer to an older brother as Bubba. Boys with colorful personalities are sometimes called Hotshot or Buckshot by their parents and friends. My father often called me Slick when I was a child and continued doing so into my adulthood. My old friend, Clayton Hall, came to be known as Flash by his business associates because of his flashy attire and gawdy jewelry and his long black hair, which resembled the persona of a professional wrestler. The children in Clayton’s weekly Sunday School class called him Uncle Bo.
I get a kick out of twins’ names too. As if it isn’t enough that these children have to go through life looking alike and sharing everything, must parents also give them cute matching names? I went to school with a couple of fellas who were identical twins named Ronnie and Donnie. Nobody could tell them apart, so everybody called each of them “Ronnie-and-Donnie,” no matter which one they were talking to. Many years after high school I bumped into Ronnie-and-Donnie (actually, it was just one of them) and we visited for a spell and laughed and talked about our high school days.
“I never could tell you fellas apart,” I said to Ronnie-and-Donnie. “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. In fact, after we got grown we both decided to change our names.”
“Really?” I asked. “What did you change your names to?”
“Joe and Jerry!” replied Ronnie-and-Donnie.
In America it is traditional to give our children two given names. I suppose this practice is intended to improve identification and record keeping. If we consider three little boys each named Billy, for example, it is helpful to know that one is Billy Bob, another is Billy Jack, and the third is Billy Ray. The fact that we have about a billion Billy Rays in America might indicate that there are a lot of folks out there who just don’t get what we are trying to do. Girls are traditionally given only one first name because when a girl later marries she takes her husband’s last name as her new surname and adopts her maiden name as her middle name. Got it? I hope so because a lot of people don’t. That’s why we keep on naming our daughters Mary Ann, Peggy Sue, Sarah Beth, etc., creating the dilemma of what to do with the extra name when the girl gets married. To complicate matters further, girls are often called by their middle names during childhood by parents and school friends, which becomes the primary name they are known by in their youth. Then, when girls become adults and begin to write their full names as a signature, new friends and acquaintances start calling them by their first names, leaving our poor little girls ever confused about who they are.
The same thing happens with boys as well. When he was young, my cousin, Eddie Leon, was known as Leon. In his later years, after becoming a person of some importance in the world, Leon became known commonly as Eddie. Another of my cousins named James Edward was called Eddie by his family and friends during his youth, but later became Jim. My old schoolmate, Wendell, who is now a retired attorney, is now known by all the world as Jessie. And on and on and on… I used to have lots of friends and relatives, but nowadays I hardly know who anybody is anymore.
For that matter, I have never liked my own name too much either. My middle name is Clark and I do not like that name any better than I like Lloyd. There is not much one can do to jive up a name like Lloyd Clark. I always wanted to be a Jimmy, or a Bobby, a Tommy, or a Johnny, but I just can’t seem to get there from Lloyd Clark. I grew a pencil mustache one time and people started calling me Slick, like my father did when I was a boy, but I didn’t like that name too much either. Still, I wish I had a nickname that was a little more cosmopolitan than Lloyd Clark. I’m working on that, but until I come up with something better, I think it will be all right if ya’ll want to just call me “Dude!”