How the Leopard got its Spots

Tigers die and leave their skins;
people die and leave their names.
~Japanese Proverb

My whiteboard is a hot mess right now. Sure it’s a lot of deadlines, but I’m excited about every one of the stories. I love seeing how it unfolds. I love watching characters come to life.

But I hate naming characters.

Which got me to thinking. It’s just like choosing a name for your kid. You’re going to brand its personality and attitude if you call it Wilfred instead of Mark. You’re going to make it the first permanent thing attached to the child and everything that comes after will be in the shadow of that name.

But parents have nine months to argue and debate and buy silly books full of too many names to choose from and answer phone calls from relatives that want the baby named after them or their best friend from high school. And authors? We’re on our own for the most part. Oh sure, I’ve thrown a white flag out on twitter or facebook for names to use, but that was never for main characters.

And there’s the bread crumb for the day… you are not a sidekick. You are your own main character. So hey, how about we grab a cup of coffee, go to the green couch in the garage and you tell me a story! Where did you get your name? (Me? Several doctors told my mother I was twin boys. She spent nine months naming me… only to have “surprise!” force its way into the world without a penis, let alone two. My name was decided on the spot due to my birthdate and heritage.)

That’s right. That’s it. Simple garage talk question this week… maybe. Because I’m betting some of you might not know where your name came from and you’ll have to ask. You may learn a funny story. You may find out you were almost named Moondust or Poppy. And you’ll smile and laugh and have a new part of you to color in the name you walk around with.

Now scoot… go ask if you don’t know and then come tell me. If you know, start spilling!

8 Responses to How the Leopard got its Spots

  • phyllis engle says:

    My mother wanted to name me Ramona…. Instead, I was named after my grandma that I never met. My dad’s mom. I HATED it! People (kids) would tease me all the time, calling me “Phyllis Diller”. I felt like I had an old lady name. But as I grow older, I rather like my name! I like that not many people have it. I like that I was named after the most important person in my daddy’s life. :)

  • MandyD says:

    My name is Mandy Jannetje De Geit.

    I was named after the Barry Manilow song, “Mandy”. They liked it cause it was original, since Mandy is what’s on my birth certificate, not an Amanda.

    My middle name, Jannetje (pronounced Yawn-nit-cha) is dutch for Janet, that was Dad’s mom’s name, she died before I was adopted. Dad wanted to call me Jannetje and my brother Gerrit (After himself), I’m glad mom had some say…

    I was Melanie Marie Hardy, for seven weeks, before my parents adopted me. My birthmother named me that while she waited for the adoption to finalize.

    In my brother Adam’s case, my parents wanted to call him Ian, they thought Mandy and Ian sounded nice. When they adopted him (at 7 months) the social worker said that the foster home had been calling him Adam, my parents didn’t want to confuse him any more, so he became Adam . Six months later, we get an Xmas card from Adam’s foster parents… asking how little Gregory was doing… LOL!

    …and then there’s the story of Dad. He wanted to call Adam and I, “Open” and “Shut”. Why? You ask. Our last name is De Geit, which is pronounced Duh Gate. Open De Geit and Shut De Geit. Har har! Thanks Dad. *(I was also Open and Adam was Shut, he had us picked right.) :D

  • paula says:

    My mothers brother was in Vietnam when I was born, his name was Paul. My mom wanted to name me Michele but my Grandmother ( a very overbearing and pushy woman) insisted I was named Paula, so I am Paula Michele. :)

  • Jeff Coffield says:

    Let me begin by telling you my family is Jewish. My mother’s side of the family came from Russia. Their surname was Skemorowski. My mother told me I was named after my two great uncles, Jeffrey & Wayne, which seem like odd names for Russian Jews. I never met them and don’t know their story.

    I did know my grandfather and grandmother, Harry & Helen. They escaped Russia prior to 1920 before they were killed. I can only assume my great uncles didn’t escape that fate.

    Their surname was changed to Skemer at Ellis Island. I was able to find them and my uncle Robert on the 1920 census. My uncle was approximately 1.

    Trust me, I’ve already used the names and details in short stories and a potential novel.

  • Roberto says:

    All my life I’ve thought my name was Roberto Armando, but on a trip recently to the country where I was born (Guatemala) to pick up a birth certificate, I was amazed to find out that it had my first and middle names reversed. Also that my last name’s a hyphenate.

    My father says that he was so discombobulated the day I was born, that he filled the form out wrong. I’m named for him, but since technically I’m not, there may be hope for me yet.

  • wolfnoma says:

    Ya know Kelli, funny thing about my name. My given name that is… Very few people know what it is. I love my given name and I know exactly where I got it from and why. Simply because I am a Junior, but… and this is a big but, I was not truly named after my father, although we share the same name. I was named after an Italian Jesuit who bacame a Pope and then was cannonized in 1726.

    He is the Patron Saint of students, the blind, AIDS paitients and their caregivers.

    His name is Aloysios Gonzaga and lived from 1568 to 1591 and died when he was only 23 years old when he died.

  • Jeff Prettyman says:

    My mother was fully prepared to name me “Christoper Robin” Prettyman until she wavered at the last moment, and went with “Jeffrey”. No family history, no reason. My paternal grandfather pushed hard for a “family” name. His side of the family, of course. How different would my life have been as, “Bagwell Barker Prettyman”? I think I’d have been a Grade A bad-ass.

  • Kelli says:

    closed and moved http://kelliowen.com/?p=453

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