Saturday, October 8, 2011

What's in a Name?

I just realized that I hit a milestone not that long ago: I wrote my 200th blog post. But I was too busy at the time--traveling hither and yon, spending precious time with my twin baby granddaughters, welcoming my oldest boy home from Afghanistan, etc. etc.--to take note of it. So today, I thought I'd take a break from posting pictures of the grandkids (although look closely at today's photo and you'll see that I did manage to sneak them into it!) to talk about what a unique pleasure working on "String of Pearls" has been to me.

First of all, I'd like to thank my husband for giving me such a beautiful last name--a real gem of a name, in fact--when I became his wife. Among many other good things, my married name provided me with a cool title for my blog. My favorite subject is my family, and that's just what they are: my string of Pearls. My priceless gems. Voila! The perfect title.

I love my last name. I think it's so unusual and pretty. Not that I had a bad maiden name or anything; I mean, I wasn't saddled with one of those unfortunate surnames destined to be ridiculed viciously by the junior high set, like Weiner or Hogg or Winterbottom. But I do feel lucky to have inherited such a lovely new last name when I married my high school sweetheart. (If his last name had been Hogg, it wouldn't have been a deal-breaker...but let's just say I'm happy it wasn't.)

The only drawback to the name Pearl is that over the phone, it's hard to make people understand what you're saying. It seems like a simple name, but they always need you to spell it for them. Sometimes I'll say, "You know, Pearl, like the jewelry." My husband's standard line is better: he will say, "You spell it like the white thing in the oyster." The scary thing is that recently he said this and the gal on the other end said, "Okay, but could you spell it for me anyway?" (This is the sad result, in my opinion, of moving away from spelling bees and letting school kids rely on spellchecker instead.) Oh, and there is another drawback to our name, now that I think of it, about which I've written before ("Random Thoughts About Adorable Things," June 17): my middle son couldn't pronounce his R's or his L's when he was a little fella, making our name doubly hard for him to say--so for a brief period of time in his life, he had to go by "Puh." Ah, well.

Anyway, I've been thinking a lot about last names lately, and how we have no control over which ones we end up with. I was reading an article in a Catholic newspaper a few weeks ago at my daughter-in-law's parents' house, and the woman being interviewed had the last name "Willfahrt." I couldn't help but smile when I saw that, and I imagined how hilarious it would have been to my boys at a certain age. They probably would have loved to have that name themselves when they were about eight--because eight-year-old boys, as you know, are notorious for their love of bathroom humor. I don't know if a scientific study has ever been done on this; but if it was, I believe the results would prove it's some sort of genetic aberration over which the males of our species have little control. A name like Willfahrt could make a little boy a regular folk hero on the recess field. A little girl who was stuck with it, on the other hand, would probably beg to be homeschooled and worry that she'd never get a date to the prom.

To wrap this up: thank you again, dear husband, for giving me such a lovely name--one that we have passed down to our string of five boys, who will in turn pass it down to all of their own children. I know that someday, our two little Pearl granddaughters will lose the family name if they marry; but let's just hope the men they marry aren't Hoggs.

(Willfahrt is a German word, and I tried to find its meaning, but couldn't. If anyone out there can translate it for me, I'd appreciate it!)

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