“Well, Son, your mother was on a lot of drugs and your head was so big.” At least Dad was somewhat apologetic. Mom….not so much.
“Thirty-six hours of pushing that enormous head of yours out my love hole and you wanna complain about your name?”
Yes. I want to submit a formal complaint about my name. My parents didn’t think things through when they named me. You see the problem with calling a kid, Algor, when his last name is, Rithm , right? (Stop laughing, Joe! Go drink a cup of yourself!)
First of all, a name like mine comes with certain expectations. Even in kindergarten, people expected me to be smart. Let’s just say, it was a struggle. Although, I know I wasn’t the only one because we talked about this very thing in my, “People with Unfortunate Names Support Group”.
“You’re right, Al. It was much better to have the opposite problem. I liked proving people wrong after they assumed I was stupid just because my parents misspelled my name on my birth certificate,” said Naive Lee.
“I can’t really blame my last name on my parents since they had to deal with it too, but come on! Couldn’t they have gone with something simpler for my first name?” Poindexter Smartypants shook his head and covered his face with his hands.
It was nice to be around others who’d suffered because of their names, but I had to quit a few weeks back when they started doing the same thing they complained about. Everyone in the group had gotten together without me to come up with an idea they wanted my help with.
“As you know, Al, this group has always been about making a difference and affecting change in the world.” Rich Moneypenny, who started the group out of his parent’s basement where he lived, announced his proposal.
“Yeah, dude, like totally. You know, like you’re the only one who can do this for us, and stuff.” M.B. Sill, added before he zoned out watching an ant crawl up the wall.
“We’d like you to come up with a plan, of sorts. You know, like a recipe or a series of instructions to help people come up with better names for their children. A…what did we call it again?”
“An algorithm. You’d like me to develop an algorithm. Because my name is, Algor Rithm, you think I’d be best at creating an algorithm.” My voice dripped with sarcasm, which upset both of the Asm twins, Sark and Org, for some reason.
I left that meeting in a huff and I haven’t been back. I missed the outlet for venting the emotional trauma caused by my unfortunate name, though so I called my friend, Pepper and invited her over. We talked and played Mario Kart until we got hungry.
“I don’t know why, but every time I hang out with you, I crave pizza.” I laughed and she ordered the grub.
When the pizza arrived, we both went to the door.
“I’ve got a Pepper Roni?”
“No. Neither of us eat meat.” I said as the guy furrowed his brow and examined the receipt.
“I’m Pepper Roni.” Pepper reached for the pizzas, but the guy moved them out of her reach.
“No, it says here, these are both veggie specials. No pepperonis.”
“Maybe we should order pizza under my name from now on.”
“Oh yeah? What’s your name?” Asked the pizza guy who finally relinquished the goods after Pepper showed him her driver’s license.
“Hey, maybe you can look at my computer sometime.”
I shut the door in his face, but not before I noticed that his name tag read, “Dick”.
I could’ve been a little more understanding, considering the group and the pizza guy weren’t entirely off base with my abilities. It’s true, I do work in the computer industry. Maybe my name wouldn’t be a problem if I’d gone into a different line of work, like, say, interior design or vacuum cleaner sales. But, in the computer design industry, my name can be confusing.
Why, you ask. Well, it’s mostly because people in my office say my name hundreds of times a day. And just like anytime someone says your name, my ears perk up when I hear mine. Every. Time.
I don’t always hear the other words people say, but I hear my name. Take for instance the incident from last Monday. Sally, who sits in the cubicle next to me, requested help with her project, but all I heard was my name.
“Do you have it or not?”
“Do I have what?”
“I AM RIGHT HERE.”
Of course, our brains have a great ability to adapt, right? So, that’s what my brain did for a while after I started working there. It got to where I didn’t answer every time I heard someone say, “algorithm.” That was nice for a while, but then that backfired and became a huge problem when someone—the highest ranking someone—did, in fact, require my immediate response.
“Algor Rithm. Anybody seen him?”
“Algor Rithm!” Are you over there?”
“Algor Rithm, the boss says that new program you designed is crashing.”
At one point, everyone in the office was chanting my name while I happily ignored them. Don’t ask me why no one took the time to actually stand up and walk over to my desk, but that’s human nature, isn’t it?
Luckily, Sally finally shouted, “AL!”, and got my attention. If she hadn’t done that, I’m certain I would’ve been fired. Most likely, Tech Savvy would’ve pounced on the opportunity to show me up to the boss.
I guess, when I look at it a different way, I kind of appreciate my name. After all, there are unseen biases that occur when someone looking to hire people see my name on my resume. I mean, would you rather hire someone named, Algor Rithm, or someone named, Sharon Crack? Sure, maybe Sharon has a doctorate. Maybe she goes by, Dr. Sharon Crack, but does that really make it any better?
Sometimes, a name’s reputation doesn’t have anything to do with the actual name. Marco Polo didn’t start out being an awesome game to play in the swimming pool. Nellie hasn’t always come after the command to, “woah”; and Dick doesn’t always refer to a penis.
What I mean to say is, in this life, we get to create our own lives. It’s up to us to make our names memorable in the ways we desire.
That being said, I’d still like to caution expectant parents on name-selection strategies for their progeny. As it turned out, I went back to the support group with the algorithm they requested.
1. Select a name for your child well before they are born. Do not wait until you or your wife is under the influence of pain medication and pushing out a watermelon-sized noggin to make this important decision.
2. Run the name past some honest folks, like maybe a group of kids. Nobody will be more honest than a group of kids.
3. Get someone to spell check your name selection.
There’s probably a lot more I could add to this algorithm, but expectant parents don’t often take well to extensive instructions. It’s because of that, I believe, that poor Fanny Cooter got stuck with her name. In cases like that, we can all be thankful for the loophole that allows any of us to change our names if we so chose.
As for me, I’ve learned to adjust. But, for future reference, please…just call me Al.