the name game

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: November 05, 2019

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Submitted: November 05, 2019



The Name Game

by Jan Koenig


I know I love Larry.  I just do not know if I love him enough to marry him.  Well, love really has nothing to do with it, it is more because of his name.  No, that’s wrong.  This is really hard to explain.  I am not hesitating because of Larry’s name as such, but over what my name will become should I marry him.

Oh, I know what you are saying – in today’s society, women do not have to change their names when they marry.  I have thought about that.  In this case, however, I do not think that would help any.  In fact, it would probably make things worse.  Maybe I am just too conscious of names and the effects they can have.

I should start over.  First off, my name is Jan Junior Lawrence.  My father is Jan Peter Lawrence.  He was named after his father, Jan Theodore Lawrence.  Dad always wanted a son so that he could carry on the tradition and name him Jan too.  Instead he got me.

A few months before my birth, tests revealed that my mother had a defect in her womb that would probably not allow her to carry any other children after this one.  In fact, she almost lost me.  But this would be her only child.

After that, Dad became obsessed with by that idea that this one and only child would be named Jan.  My mother, on the other hand, was as determined that her child would be named anything but Jan.  They had enough of a name problem already, she contended, without adding another complication.  You see, before she married Dad, her name was Jan Louise Williams.

My parents had both been born in the same year, raised in the same neighborhood, and attended the same schools.  They ended up in a lot of the same classes, too.  By ‘coincidence’, they always seemed to be seated near each other.  (Well, the fact that they were high school sweethearts may have had something to do with that.) 

Identification problems arose.  Teachers would call upon one Jan, only to have the other answer instead.  They then tried calling them by their last names.  But it was a large school and there were others there who had the first names William and Lawrence.  While two went by Bill and Larry, there were two who did go by their full names.Even their middle names, Louise and Peter belonged to other students as well.

Eventually, everyone started calling them Jack and Jill, but both hated the names.  It became more of an inside joke just to annoy them.  Most of the teachers ended calling on them by using both first and last names for them.

Anyway, there was little wonder as to why my mother did not want her child named Jan.  But Dad was determined and not about to be moved from his position on the subject.

“My child is going to be named after myself and my father,” he told Mom.  “He will be named Jan.” 

“But what if it is a girl?” Mom countered.  “We are not going to name her after you or your father.”

“Okay,” Dad said calmly.  “Then we’ll name her after you.”

That made Mom laugh.  “I cede the point,” she told Dad.  “But not the game!”

Well, I turned out to be a girl, and, as I said before, my name is Jan Junior Lawrence.  That just proves how persuasive my father can be when he sets his mind to something. 

But as much as he wanted me named Jan, it is puzzling that he calls me ‘Junior’.  Most everyone else calls me ‘JJ’, including Mom.  The only other person who does not call me ‘JJ’ is my grandfather.  Grandpa has always called me ‘Jani’ (pronounced “yawn-ee”).  He staunchly insists that ‘Jan’ is a boy’s name.  He even says it is for that reason that he did not want Dad and Mom to get married.  But Grandpa is a great kidder.  And there is always a twinkle in his eye when he says stuff like that.

When I was younger, whenever Grandpa and I would go anywhere together, like the drycleaners or bakery, he would always give his name as ‘Jan Lawrence’.  He said he did that so if he couldn’t make the pick up, any of us could do it.  (He usually went by ‘JT’.  In fact, all of us either went by initials or middle names.  Grandpa used to joke that if we didn’t have different middle names, and thus different initials, he would have had to assign numbers.)

He would always smile and wink at me when he said things like that.  He knew full well what confusion was caused whenever anyone called our house and just asked for ‘Jan Lawrence’.  The “name game” he called it.  I thought it was very funny too.  After all, I never had any problems as to which Jan was which. 

In reality, it was really rather rare for anyone to call and just ask for ‘Jan Lawrence’.  It was usually a telemarketer or someone else who did not know the family at all.  And on those occasions when we did get one of those calls, they usually did not last long.  It only seems to take one time getting a reply of “which one?” or “Grandfather, father, mother, or daughter?” for the caller to hang up quickly.  In any case, it has always proved to be a great way to get rid of unwanted calls.  Inevitably, our family was known as the ‘Jans’ almost more than more than we were known as the ‘Lawrences’. 

Larry is a ‘Junior’ too.  He was named after his father.  He says he realizes the problems I have had to deal with concerning the “name game” in my family.  I am not quite sure, however, that he really realizes the problems we, or should I say I, will be forced to face name-wise, were we to marry.

I can’t help but think back to when I met Larry.  From our first introduction, I did not like him.  It was a blind date set up by my college roommate and her boyfriend.  I was not impressed at all.

Maybe it was just the way our friends kept trying to push us together which turned me off.  It did convince me, however that my roomie and her guy both had a rather sick sense of humor.  But they weren’t the only ones who kept trying to get Larry and me together.  Everyone seemed to think that we made such a ‘cute’ couple and that we had so much in common.  I just didn’t see it, and didn’t want anything to do with the guy.  I tried to avoid him as much as possible. 

But then, much to my chagrin, I discovered that we had a history class together.  And kept running into him at the library.  Then, a week later, our history instructor asked to see us both after class.  It seemed that we were both researching the same subject for our term papers.  Our instructor suggested that we combine our efforts into a joint project.  I was not thrilled by the idea.  I don’t think that Larry was all that excited by it either.  However, the instructor was right, it was rather redundant for us to work on the same thing separately.  So, we acquiesced, and found ourselves together quite a lot. 

That’s when a strange thing happened.  The more we worked together, the more we found other things we had in common, besides a history class and second generation names, that is.  Basketball, scary movies, and photography were just some of the other interests we had in common.  I got to thinking that, maybe, I had been a little bit hasty in my opinion of Larry.  Just maybe, my roommate was not so demented after all, as much as I hated to admit it.  By the time we completed the project, and the class ended, we were seeing each other, socially, on an almost regular basis.

We have been dating now, on and off, for over two years.  But, in spite of the fact that I really like being with and around Larry, and sharing things with him, I have never seriously considered a permanent relationship with him.  It just seemed too ridiculous. 

That is until last week.  That is when Larry asked me to marry him.  I was stunned.  I could not believe that he really meant what he was saying.  But then he told me that he did not want to spend his future with anyone else.

I do feel the same way about him.  I think I have known for a while now that I am in love with Larry, but would never let myself recognize it.  So, in spite of the ‘Name Game’, or maybe because of it, I have decided to marry Larry.

Larry says that if worse comes to worse, we can always have our names changed.  We will just have to wait and see on that one.  In any case, it will be a brand new twist on the old ‘Name Game’.

You see, our name problem is this:  My full name is Jan Junior Lawrence.  Larry’s full name is Lawrence Jan, Jr.

© Copyright 2020 jan koenig. All rights reserved.

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