Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Sunday, March 2, 2008

A Name For Myself

"Why, can you imagine what would happen if we named all the twos Henry or George or Robert or John or lots of other things? You'd have to say Robert plus John equals four, and if the four's name were Albert, things would be hopeless."
-From 'The Phantom Tollbooth' by Norton Juster

I came across a slight piece of information just a few days ago: my upstairs neighbour, who has been plaguing Spouse and I for months by performing strange acts of heavy footstepping above our heads- motions that rattle our apartment and our minds- shares a first name with me.
It was a sobering discovery. Always it has felt peculiar to meet another with my name but that particularly was the very last thing I wanted to share with our neighbour. I am at present working on my patience and tolerance and attempting to develop an aptitude for ignoring the sounds of sudden, violent thumping through the ceiling. She and her family are the opposite of us in every outward way. How could we possibly be of the same name?

Perhaps I am not alone in feeling possessive about my first name; I dare say that it is a particularly selfish trait to consider it mine to begin with as though it were a thing to be exclusively owned and pocketed. Everybody must be called by some name or other and there are, I dare say, more names than there are people.

My Spouse and I do not call each other by name. During the course of my day I talk to myself with gusto but do not, of course, address my own self by name. As a result, I sometimes forget entirely that I have a first name; seeing it glisten on my neighbour's mailbox startled me out of my reverie.
And still, I do not know why.

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