Naming RightsPosted: March 4, 2008
NPR is airing an interview today with the Rutgers women’s basketball coach, C. Vivian Stringer. I really don’t care about women’s college basketball (or men’s for that matter), but whenever I see a name like this it naturally makes me wonder about the initial. What does C. stand for? Do people call her “C.” or “Vivian” or “C. Vivian?” What’s she hiding? Is she related to G. Gordon Liddy?
I’m not sure if a first initial is distinguished or pompous. Then I realize we’ve done the same thing to our son Ben. His full name is Andrew Benedict Schenck. Perhaps one day he’ll fancy himself A. Benedict Schenck. Which might look good on legal letterhead but may also be confusing during academic roll call for years to come.
He’s named Andrew for my late father, a symphony orchestra conductor and a wonderful dad. We didn’t call him “Andrew” because it was just too soon to have another “Andrew Schenck” running around. Plus I can’t stand the name Andy which is what it would probably have devolved into at school. He’s named Benedict for the saint — NOT the pope. We named him first in case you were wondering.
But we usually just call him Ben. Unless he’s in trouble in which case his full name works beautifully when you yell it out on the playground. Interestingly, a bunch of his friends call him Benedict. He didn’t want to be confused with the myriad Benjamins in his grade and so in kindergarten he asked people to call him Benedict.
If Ben decides to go with that first initial he’ll be in decent company. There’s F. Scott Fitzgerald, M. Scott Peck, and J. Paul Getty. We’ll just ignore J. Edgar Hoover and J. Danforth Quayle.