Sunday, November 13, 2016

Naming Names

Like many people, I have a hard-to-pronounce last name. Every day, it seems, I hear a new way to pronounce it. “Eye-ree” - “Ee-ruh” - “Eye-rr” - “Eerie”… It’s seldom that someone actually gets it right, on the first try. When the Eyre brothers originally left England in the mid-1800’s, and landed in America, one went north and one went south. In the North, they pronounced it the right way. The South wasn’t so accomodating. As you know, they have a certain way of talking down there, so they added an extra syllable to the name – “Eye-rr”. If you didn’t guess by now, my last name is pronounced “Air”, as in Jordan Eyre, Extraordinaire (at your service).

Believe it or not, my middle name is Michael. My full name, backwards, is (Air) Michael Jordan. It can’t be a coincidence, can it? I was born in the summer of 1988. The Air Jordan I shoe was wildly successful, and Michael Jordan had been on fire for years. Michael was All-NBA First Team, an NBA All-Star Starter, won the Slam Dunk Competition twice in a row, and was the NBA Most Valuable Player. Michael was, by all accounts, killing it. 

I can’t get my parents to admit that it was on purpose. If I was actually named after him, it would be fine. My parents insist that I wasn’t, and that they are not basketball fans! They have no ties to Chicago or North Carolina. To my knowledge, neither have ever watched a game that wasn’t in a championship series. My father isn’t a football or baseball fan, either! In his spare time, after coming home from work as a manufacturing engineer, my dad is a Master Instructor in Taekwondo, 4th degree black belt and all. That doesn’t leave much time for sports fanaticism. Of course, my mother falls into the same boat. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Even still, my name can’t be a coincidence. I even have a brother named Dennis Rodman – alright, that’s not true, but would it surprise you?

Besides the Michael Jordan of it all, my name is famous for yet another reason. When Elvis was swinging his hips, at the height of his career, he played with a band called The Jordanaires (an exact homophone of the plural of my name). The Jordanaires were a vocal quartet, specializing in gospel music. They became famous for the background vocals they provided for Elvis on many of his songs from 1956 to 1972.

In the summer of 2016, while moving halfway across the country, Channing and I stopped at Graceland. At every chance I got, I would ask the tour guide, the bus driver, or the girl at the ticket counter if they knew who The Jordanaires were. “Well, I’m Jordan Eyre!” I’d say. Anyway, when you walk down the famous Hall of Records, and look at all of those gold records, it says my name on like half of them! 

But were my parents Elvis fans? Not a chance. Maybe it was a coincidence…

I am not complaining. I love having a memorable name. It has helped me in ways I never expected. For example, as a salesman, no client has ever forgotten my name. It has gotten stuck in the heads of potential employers, and pretty girls alike, hand has often given me a leg up, so to speak. A strong, memorable name can be a very valuable asset, and I consider myself very lucky.

Naming a child is very serious business, but it doesn’t always have to be. Channing and I talk often about our future, and we dream fondly of welcoming our first child into the world. The conversation always comes back to the name.

Before I go on, I need to tell you something. I am so blessed to have a funny wife. When you are out searching the world for your soulmate, make sure she’s funny. If she has a sense of humor, you’ll never have a problem. When bad things happen, she’ll help you find the funny, and you’ll deal with it together. When good things happen, you’ll feel complete. Like you’re in the company of an angel. You’ll experience a deep, all-encompassing happiness, unlike anything you’ve ever felt, if she’s funny.

Anyway, because my wife is funny, she has decided to “let me be in charge” of the middle name. She’s not stupid, though, because she has retained full control over the first name, and full veto rights of my choice. But she’s funny, remember? I think she’ll go for at least one of my ideas…

Did you ever hear someone say the line, “Danger is my middle name.” Obviously, they’re being hyperbolic. They’re telling us that the concept of danger is engrained in them, and has been a part of them since birth. But what if it was literally your middle name?

The second is equally cool. “Hammer”. Nobody named Hammer was ever bullied. Ever.
For the next one, you should know that I’m a huge Johnny Cash fan. In fact, the concept for my book A Douche Walks into a Bar… was created inside a Johnny Cash themed bar named “A Bar Named Sue”. The name, of course, is from Cash’s famous song “A Boy Named Sue,” which is about a boy who, when his father left his mother and him at a young age, named him – you guessed it – Sue. The boy is angry at his dad for giving him such an awful name, and they get into a terrible fight. At the end of the song, the father gives his reason.

     And he said, "Son, this world is rough
     And if a man's gonna make it, he's gotta be tough
     And I knew I wouldn't be there to help ya along
     So I give ya that name and I said goodbye
     I knew you'd have to get tough or die
     And it's the name that helped to make you strong"

     He said, "Now you just fought one hell of a fight
     And I know you hate me, and you got the right
     To kill me now, and I wouldn't blame you if you do
     But ya ought to thank me, before I die
     For the gravel in ya guts and the spit in ya eye
     'Cause I'm the son-of-a-bitch that named you Sue"

Look. I don’t intend to leave my wife and child at any point, but I love the premise of the song. I love the idea that a soft name will make the boy hard, because he’s gotta defend himself, or die trying. It taught the kid to stand up for himself. The father was proud of the man that Sue had become, and he was proud that the name he chose did the trick.

That’s why I want to give my boy the middle name “Buttercup”. Cute, right?

As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, my last name gets mispronounced all the time. Most of the time, I insist on the correct pronunciation because I have pride in my name. A person’s name is their favorite sound in any language, and they should have pride in it! Sometimes, however, an intentional mispronunciation is essential for a joke… 

For any How I Met Your Mother fans out there (everyone), we remember Barney’s most oft-used catchphrase: “It’ll be legen – wait for it – dary! Legendary!” Channing and I love that show. Which is why I want to name my child – boy or girl – “Legend Waitforit Eyre”. Now, for this to work as a joke, you must mispronounce the name. It should be said just like Barney says it – “Air-ee”. Now, when the kid is old enough to enjoy that joke, the show will be so dated as to fall into oblivion, which is why I will buy the complete series, and put it in a bank vault, to be watched when they are old enough to enjoy it. Let’s be honest, the joke may fall flat.

If Channing picks a first name that starts with a T, boy or girl, the middle name will be Rex. It has to be. It’s out of my control.

Now, sometimes, when Channing is in a receptive mood, I subtly suggest full names. I say something like “How do you feel about the name Harrison?” If she goes for Harrison, I’ll choose the middle name “Derrick”. Then, he’ll be “Harry Derry Eyre”… get it? Like “hairy derrière”! Hilarious.

Maybe I’m projecting, but I have a feeling that my dad was just as funny as I am, when he named me.

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