Friday, June 2, 2017

What's in a Name When the Name is Perry?

Perry & the Sweater               Zzzzzzzzzzz!                  Great Caesar's Ghost!  

Do you like your name?

I hope you do, especially if you have an uncool name like Cyril, Agatha, or
Lars. Because if you enjoy being called Cyril, Agatha, or Lars, my fine-feathered but ill-monikered friend, you must have a self-image so smoking hot you could cook a steak just by standing next to it! 

I, on the other hand, am named Perry.  True, there's nothing terribly wrong about the name Perry aside from the fact that the folks who bear it are few and far between. Yet I like my name about as much as I like the smell of three day old fish.

How come?

As a kid, I was hardly athletic. I was routinely picked last in gym class and then promptly placed on waivers. I was also painfully shy. Speaking up in class might as well have been speaking up to negotiate the Cuban Missile Crisis. The only time I raised my hand was when I had to go to the bathroom.

Nor was I at all popular. In Junior High School I was President and sole member of the "Clapping Out Erasers Club." Later in High School I was voted "Most Likely to Be Home Watching the Wild Wild West on Prom Night." 

And I remember these things fondly! 

Thus my concept of what a person named Perry was supposed to be like was someone with all the qualities I disliked in myself.  And there were no other Perrys around to refute that Perry perception. 
As life progressed, contact with other people named Perry - largely limited to fictional persons and television personalities -  proved personally perilous.

"Great Caesar's Ghost!" regularly roared Daily Planet editor Perry White at Clark Kent, Lois Lane, and Jimmy Olson but who was 
otherwise the only principal character in the Superman comic books or fabled TV series likely to drop off the planet wholly unnoticed by the Man of Steel.

Perry Mason seemed to me the most insipid character on TV, a middle aged guy who wasn't funny, didn't duke it out with bad guys, 
and didn't connect with women,  a television character whose charisma was second only to the Indian Head test pattern that ruled the airwaves after 11:00 at night.  Heck, at least Perry White got to hang with Superman!

Then there was a laid back crooner on television in the 50's with a personality like a carp whose greatest virtue seemed to be the ability to mask his blandness with a closet full of casual clothes most epitomized by a red sweater that would have gotten me beaten up if I'd worn it to school.

His name was Perry Como.

And let's not forget one of the murderers in the book and movie In Cold Blood. His name? Yep, Perry Smith.

And yet during those intervening years many people I'd meet told me they actually liked my name:

"Perry! That's kind of unusual, and kind of cool!"

"Has a friendly sound to it, Perry does.  Names ending in "ry” always do."

"Not many people named Perry. Makes you special!"

There also began to appear a few Perrys more pleasing than the humble Perrys of the past. Rocker Perry Farrell, actor Perry King, and designer Perry Ellis must have all three found the will to persevere and prevail despite our shared Perry personas.

So what's in a name?  If it's your name, it's all about what you think of yourself. I'm trying to start thinking of Perry - my name and me - in a good way.  It's taken me over 60 years to begin to try. 

So, Cyril, Agatha, and Lars, show me the way!   

Show me the pathway to Perry Perfection.


More Palpably Pleasing Perrys


Russell Gayer said...

My neighbor's name is Perry, so I can brag and say I know a total of three of your species (the other being Perry Wolfinbarger - don't ask me to spell that three times real fast).

My mother had a penchant for unusual names. My brothers, Gordon, Rance, and Corley (you heard correctly) came along before me - Dennis Russell. My dad detested the name Dennis and preferred to call me Russell because he had a hunting buddy who carried that moniker.

I've probably met a half-dozen other Russells in my whole life. None were as witty or dashingly handsome as me. Nor as modest or humble, I might add.

While having a rare and unusual name like Perry or Russell might be a pain in the ass sometimes, I much prefer it to Steve, Mike, Brian, Robbie, or Dick-nose.

Perry Block said...

No question about it, you are the wittiest and most dashingly handsome Russell I have ever met! Of course I have never met another Russell. I can't hardly think of any famous Russell's I've ever even heard of.

Oh yeah! Russell Brand! I just thought of one.

Yep, he's a douche bag. No offense.

I think I have actually met only three other Perrys. Two I didn't know very well, one was a jerk. But I am actually being sincere in this article: I didn't like myself very much so I didn't like the name, and I have never really gotten over it.

What I really wish I had been named is:


Like it?

Russell Gayer said...

Oh, so now your wanting to name yourself after Trump. I get it. Will your middle initial be "J" too?

Next you'll be shopping for a mail-order ex-model from Slovakia.

Perry Block said...

Nah, I already got one of those. What do you mean Trump? I'm a fan of the great Donald 0'Connor! "Make 'em laugh, Make 'em laugh" ....