When I was a kid, I hated my name. It was uncommon, which when you’re a small child trying to fit in, makes you uncool. Plus, the name itself was considered somewhat of a geek name, like Eugene or Waldo. No truly hip or famous people had those names, at least not in the minds of adolescent boys. Looking back over history there have only been a handful of famous Gordons, none of whom were ever particularly trendy. Gordon Lightfoot has a nice voice and wrote some decent folk songs, but his name was always sort of a joke. Gordie Howe was a great hockey player, but his day was done long before I became of age, plus it lead to the rather annoying taunts of “Gordie… HOWE did you do it?!” While Boston Bruin Gord Kluzak was a tough S.O.B., I always hated the shortened “Gord”, so I never really made a connection there. G. Gordon Liddy was famous for being a crook and a moron, so he was no help. Gordon Jump, while a cast member of my favorite TV show, was a balding fat guy who ALSO happened to play a child molester on a particularly scarring episode of “Different Strokes”. When Alf came along and revealed his “real” name to be Gordon Chumway, well… lets just say that elementary school kids aren’t going to let you get by without some razzing when you share the name of a fuzzy puppet with a big nose. About the only cool Gordon in history is Gordon Sumner, and I think we can all agree that he made the right move in changing his name to Sting.
As the years have gone by, I’ve grown to like my name and it’s uniqueness. I’m NEVER mistaken for someone else by name, and with the exception of one stretch where I worked with a fellow Gordon, I’ve pretty much never had to worry about being in a place where there was more than one of us around. Another direct result is that I’ve never had to be one of those people whose constantly referred to by their last name, which explains why to this day why I cringe when someone calls me “Ellis”. I have a first name… USE IT.
Now, while I admit that my name is not necessarily popular, it isn’t SO out of left field as not to be heard of before. As it happens, Gordon is fairly common surname, as well as brand of Vodka, so it receives it’s fare share of attention. It is for those reasons that I’ve never really had any great difficulty over the years with people *spelling* my name. It spells like it sounds. No problem.
That is until I started working at my current job. For unknown reasons that I will forever be baffled by, in the five-plus years I have served at my place of employment I have had my name butchered in every conceivable way. Despite the fact that the correct spelling is listed on all correspondence I send out (memos, fax cover sheets, email tags), and is IN MY EMAIL ADDRESS, I have routinely had people hack up my name in their correspondence to me. The most popular?
Now while this is clearly incorrect, it’s at least understandable, as given the nature of regional dialects “GorDON” can often sound like “GorDAN”, retarded as it may look. It is, I assume, for that same phonetic reason that I have likewise had my name appear at least once in the follow forms:
Truth be told I’ve been secretly waiting for that first “Gordyn” so I can complete the vowel puzzle with a use of the mysterious “and sometimes Y” formula. No such luck to this point.
This week presented a new twist, as I received an email directed to “Cordon”, which I guess makes me one half of a French chicken-cheese-and-ham dish. Lovely.
But the fun doesn’t stop there. Oh no. For you see, in addition to having a FIRST name that is also a regular surname, my LAST name can also be found used as a first name. Former Red Sox outfielder Ellis Burks and current Patriot cornerback Ellis Hobbs are two prime examples. As a result, I have on plenty of occasions these past five years had things addressed to me as, you guessed it…
As you might imagine, I’m not particularly fond of this practice, given how I’ve previously discussed my disdain at being called “Ellis” by itself. Sadly, I’ve resigned myself to this error as it seems to be occurring more frequently these days, regardless of how many times I end my emails to the offenders with a simple, “Thanks, Gordon”. I’m sure this continued misuse of my name can be attributed to some degree to the overall dumbing down of our society and the general laziness that causes people not to take the added second or two to figure out who they are in fact addressing. I will also admit that since a great many people I deal with are themselves from lands far off and wondrous, their respective grasp on all things Anglo may not be particularly strong. I imagine if your name is something like Markelle or Xiong, you’re used to having your name butchered to the point that you aren’t particularly sensitive about doing it to others.
So I persevere. I’ll continue to cringe whenever my seemingly simple name is mangled, but I’ll get over it. At the very least it gives me reason to accept and embrace the fact that I somehow acquired a nickname which is that of a noise a dog might make.
Woof indeed, Gordon. Woof indeed.