What's in a Name?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Andrew is student teaching this semester. His freshman class is reading 'The House on Mango Street' (one of my favorite books). There is a chapter where the narrator talks about her name--what it means, what she likes about it, what she doesn't. The assignment for the class was to create a short essay about their name. This was the example Andrew gave them:

I don’t know what my last name means in any language. Sometimes I think it has a cool meaning, like “Maker of fine German automobiles,” but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t mean that. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t mean anything at all.

My last name, which is ‘Sterbenz’, fits nicely with the first two, Andrew and Stephen- my friends like to have some fun putting all three of my initials together. Sometimes they say something like “Your parents really must have known what kind of child they were gonna have, eh?” I usually just play along and sometimes tell old ladies that my initials are A.S.S.

It’s fun telling people how to spell my last name over the phone. I say “ ‘S’ as in scorpion, ‘T’ as in tarantula, ‘E’ as in endoscopy, ‘R’ as in reptilian, and ‘Benz’ like Mercedes.” Hopefully they are laughing at this point and they decide to give me the latest phone or upgrade me to 100 megabytes of turbo speed Internet service for free. This usually doesn’t happen, but it’s better if they like you.

My wife doesn’t like our last name. She says it’s too difficult to explain to people. I’ve tried to tell her how much fun she can have with it, but she just wants to switch back to Bryant. She used to say “Katie Bryant. You know, like Kobe.” Who wants to share a name with that guy? If I had been named Andrew Bryant and her maiden name was Sterbenz, I would have taken her last name because Andrew Sterbenz is a much better name.


Alex said...

you crack me up!