All my life I’ve had a love-hate relationship with, of all things, my own name.
To be more precise, my relationship with my name is about ¼ love and ¾ hate, and the “love” is more on the order of “like” similar to the manner in which you “like” a comment on Facebook primarily because it has no misspellings.
Now you might think I have an archaic moniker like Bartholomew, an androgynous one such as Skyler, a back-to-the-garden 60’s name like Moon Glow, or an aberrant flight of parental reason like Melrose.
But you’d be wrong.
My name is Perry.
Chances are you don’t even know a Perry. If you’re of a certain age, your perception of Perry comes from either:
• Perry Como, crooner of the 1950’s whose mellow song stylings brought new dimensions to the word “comatose;”
• Perry Mason, the fictional attorney who never lost a case as personified by the grim, porky, and generally unappealing actor Raymond Burr, whose best role was opposite Godzilla; or
• Perry White, Clark Kent’s 'Great Caesar’s Ghost' spouting editor, the man who holds the distinction of being the only nonessential character ever woven into the entire Superman legend and the only one never to get his own comic book.
If you’re a bit younger, you may know rocker Perry Farrell, actor Perry King, or designer Perry Ellis. But frankly if you held a convention of Perrys you could fit them all in a Hampton Inn and still have room for a Starving Artists' Sale. If you took all the Perrys in the world and laid them end to end, they’d be thankful for the attention.
I myself have only known one other Perry. And in that experience I learned that I am wholly unable to handle something that people named Jim and Bill and Bob and probably even Bartholomew each and every day negotiate with ease.
I cannot address another human being by the very name I’ve felt saddled with my entire life, but which I’ve also come to feel I own!
“Hello, umm, Pouie ...”
I sputtered over the phone the first time I called Other Perry, slurring our communal name so badly it sounded like I was summoning a Pekingese for his nightly brushing and toenail clipping.
“I mean .... Hello, Perry!” I tried again, this time a bit more sprightly. “This is your namesake.”
To avoid saying “Hello, Perry, this is Perry,” I --- a person alive and breathing in 21st Century America --- actually uttered the word “namesake.” What would be next? Babbling to him to “leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for our namesake” as well?
Truth is, how we relate to our names oft does define our identities. Call your daughter Bertha and chances are by the time she’s 23 anyone lacking a full-blown death wish will opt for the stairs whenever she heads for the elevator. Christen your daughter Tiffany or Angelique and odds are she’ll grow up to never even consider dating a Perry, let alone me.
But when it comes to the Semi-importance of Being Perry, there's just no road map. I don't know what a Perry is, what a Perry does, or what a Perry ought to be. I need some Perry pointers and fast!
Other Perrys out there --- if any there be --- can you help? Please place a call to Philadelphia Perry. Let's talk our Perryness. Let's psych out our Perry personas. If we exchange our Perry perceptions, we may yet achieve Perry Perfection
Or at least, Perry Passability.
I promise not to call you Namesake. As long as you promise not to call me Pouie!