By Any Other Name*

I had a curious discussion with Aoibheann today regarding names. I found her in the tavern, sitting on the stool behind the bar and seemingly staring at the wall.  I asked if the wall was going to do something exciting, or had she been naughty.  Of course, I then had to explain about being made to face the wall as punishment for misbehaviour at school.  We got to talking about names because I told her my new one – Ahhleemuu – and learned that her name was Sheeluusee, which apparently means the same as her real name – radiant beauty. She seemed to think that was a bit presumptuous, claiming that she was very ordinary compared to the fae, and only average among her own kind. From somebody else, I might have thought that was fishing for compliments, but that would be very unlike Aoibheann.  I said that we were all very ordinary against the fae, but that she was much better than average among humans. After all, I said, the person who named her must have thought it justified. She accepted that, albeit reluctantly, and then asked if she might have been more ordinary had she had a more ordinary name. She had always wanted to be ordinary, she told me, and wondered if she might have had a more ordinary life if she hadn’t been called a radiant beauty. Of course, the immortal bard came to my rescue here.

“What’s in a name?” I declaimed, theatrically. “That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.” I had rather hoped she would understand the sentiment, even if she didn’t know about Romeo and Juliet, but sadly, it went over her head. I tried to convince her that I would probably still have become an accountant and gone to sea, even if I had been called Sid, and she would still be her if she had been called Mildred, but she wasn’t having it. She was sure that Alec would have put her in charge of the bath house instead of the tavern if she had been called Mildred. I started telling her about the naming tradition from my family history.  She didn’t quite see the point of middle names, or, as she put it, when I told her I hardly ever used it, save for official documents.

“You have an extra name for the sole purpose of not telling people what it is?” She asked.  I had to admit, it did sound silly when she put it like that.  I told her I had traced the tradition of taking your father’s first name as a middle name back as far as the beginning of the 18th century and told her about Benjamin James Ballard, wannabe pirate or wannabe writer.  She wanted to know if all of my family had wanted to be writers but ended up as something else. I told her that wasn’t the case, listing what professions I had discovered in researching the family tree. Admittedly, Father had written a few technical pamphlets and articles for trade publications, but otherwise, it was just me and Benjamin.  Rachel turned up at this point and commented on my fancy upbringing.  She had wanted to be a poet, she told us, but hadn’t written one in a while. She said she wanted to see my writing, but I told her I had written hardly any poetry and what writings I had done were not ready for public consumption just yet. After that, I left them to it, reflecting that maybe I should let others see my writing.  After all, Aerodine liked the first part of Serendipity Island. Maybe I’ll try it on Gwyn next. I think I can rely on constructive criticism, albeit peppered with the occasional vulgarity, from her.

 

* A new song to me, but I like it

 

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