What’s in a Name

What’s in a Name

by Valerie Brown. 

What’s in a name? Three simple words.

When your first name is Poindexter, people expect you to have one of three traits: money, looks, or brains. Don’t look now, but I miss on all accounts.

The day I was born I won the everyman’s trifecta: gaseous, shriveled, and flat broke. At thirty, things haven’t much changed. Now, I know it’s a copout to blame your parents for your problems, but they sure didn’t do me any favors naming me Poindexter Tiberius Whitehead. I guess it’s better than being a boy named Sue, but not by much. It’s like they wanted me to grow up to be an accountant, or tax collector. Both professions, by the way, are devoid of glamour.

You may wonder how an innocent babe comes to own such a prolific name. Well, I’ll tell you. It happens when a diehard Star Trek fan marries a softhearted southerner. Now, before you go pointing any fingers, my mother’s the Star Trek fan. I can’t remember a Halloween that didn’t involve her wearing the teased hair and heavy eyeliner of Lieutenant Commander Uhura.

I also can’t remember a Halloween where I wasn’t dressed as some member of the Enterprise crew.

My father is a local politician, head of City Council, and all around upstanding guy—one Poindexter in a long line of Poindexters. I got his looks—not that I’m grateful—a little less hair on the back and a little more on the noggin would have gone a long way.

But there’s a lot to choosing a name. Three simple words that can either ruin your descendants or make them millionaires. Three simple words that can empower them with confidence, or plant them squarely in the spit-bucket of life. Three. Simple. Words.

You’re probably wondering about now why a grown man would be monologuing on the issues of name choice. Well, I’ll tell you. There’s no greater worry for an ill-named parent than when you’re looking your newborn child in the face for the first time…

I lean back in the stiff hospital chair, holding a tightly wrapped blue bundle in my arms. My wife squeezes my hand. “What do you want to call him?”

“Not Pointdexter Tiberius,” I mumble.

She grins, her face flushed with exhaustion. “I was thinking about Jean-Luc.”

I laugh despite myself. Destined to follow in my father’s footsteps, I had married a hardcore Treky, too. “Nah, I was thinking more along the lines of Obi-Wan.” What can I say; I had to rebel in some way.

My wife chuckles. “Jean-Luc Obi-Wan Whitehead … has a certain ring to it.”

I rub my fingers into my eyes. It’s only three simple words—two if you take away the given last name. “What about John Luke Whitehead?” At least on paper he’d look normal…

Stretching out her arms, my wife takes the snoozing little bundle of blue from my arms and rocks him against her chest. “John,” she says the name softly, kisses his forehead. “John.”



Valerie Brown has been writing for five years. She loves creating character driven stories in the genres of fantasy, science fiction, and speculative fiction. She lives just north of Richmond, Virginia with her husband, rowdy two-year-old daughter, a golden couch potato/dog, and two wired tabbies.

Check her out on: Twitter and her Blog

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