Thursday, May 6, 2010

Lincoln, Lincoln bo Bincoln Bonana fanna fo Fincoln

Out our way, there was, and maybe there still is, a family by the name of Simpson. I used to pass their mailbox all the time; it said "The Simpsons" in clear handwriting. And the reason I say they might still live here and they might not is that they had to change to a plain mailbox after The Simpsons became a big hit TV show. Souvenir hunters, target shooters, and crowds of teenaged boys packed into ten-year-old Pontiacs laid waste to the original.

As someone with the same name as a famous person - several of them, in fact - I know what it's like to have false name recognition. You have to be a pretty old timer to know much about the World War II general whose name I bear. The Black Panther activist killed in bed by Chicago police, and the major league pitcher, both of whom share my moniker, are hardly household words outside of their own households, and those households with an interest in the 1960's or the Cleveland Indians/Texas Rangers/Chicago Cubs/New York Mets pitching staffs of the 1990s.

So there are two ways for this to happen:

1 - You are born, walk around with your name for years and years, and then all of a sudden, someone with the same name becomes famous. I mean, there have to be people named Bart Simpson or Stewie Griffin who were well into their 40s by the time office jokesters began regaling the lunchroom crowd with imitations of "their" cartoon voices. There are bound to be a few George Clooneys on the Medicare rolls, and when you found out that the last name of Hillary down at the Bag 'n' Save was "Clinton", how did you refrain from sidling up to her and doing your Bill impersonation? "I feel yuh pain..." Trust me...not the first time she heard that one!

2 - You are named for someone famous. The most noteworthy example of this, of course, would be my splendid great-niece Preslee, whose name checks both The King and Preslee's Mom's maiden name. So cool! And her middle name, Grace, evokes The King's home in fashionable Memphis, TN. I guess there are other examples. I've mentioned before the amount of men in the Baltimore area now pushing 50 whose parents named them after Baltimore Colts (that was a legendary football team, vestiges of which now reside in stinky Indianapolis, Indiana, where the locals don't know much about Manning up when times get tough.) This is why you might meet a guy around here who will introduce himself as "Alan Ameche O'Hoolahan" or "Johnny Unitas Jones" without the least touch of self-consciousness. And I have for years and years lobbied young parents-to-be to name their male offspring "Elvis," without any success whatsoever. But it only takes one time!

I guess there is also a third category of having a famous name, and that's when marriage brings together two unremarkable names to form a union that makes me smirk every time. So, hats off to Ferdinand and Adelaide Wright. I'm glad those two found each other! Am I smirking just to think about them right now? F. & A. Wright I am!

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