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.
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, connecting with whom being of such interest to me I took up the one and only sport I ever played enough to get good at.
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