The Bad Name of Tony

A name seems to be a random thing. I can’t remember even a fraction of the names of people I meet. What was his name again? Dick? Bart? I forget. a_560x375But there are a couple of names which I have learned to be wary of.

Andrew isn’t a good one; it reminds me of of a few bug-eyed goofs and my boarding school days at St. Andrew’s College, where I learned the misery of life.

StAndrew_098_TZBut the worst name, by far, would have to be Tony. I’ve had the misfortune of knowing a litany of Tonys, none of them decent.tony-montana-jumpieI knew Tony when he was a student teacher, never doing what he said, sneaking out to smoke in his car at recess. I remember Tony the teacher, smiling thinly, never saying what he believed, acquiescing to further his career. I remember Tony the foreman, acting crazy, never listening, yelling and spreading vitriol to suit his ends. anthony-perkinsAnd I remember Tony just before he retired, never reflecting on anything, lashing out, as he went alone to nowhere: “Stop trying to walk me around the pond!” blue-truck-1I still don’t know what that means.

Names: Short and Long Form

Rarely do characters have just the one name. For example, in All In, the main character is called Michael by most, but also Mikey by a colleague and Mike by a niece. Why the difference? What makes him more of a Michael than a Mike? Is it the formality? Is he more of a two-syllable guy? What makes him a ‘Michael’?mThis is a key issue in my bad side. Everyone – family, friends and colleagues – call the main character “Dee”, until she arrives in Newfoundland, where all the people she meets call her “Deirdre”. She actually tries to correct them, but they won’t listen. It is a moment of transference that she has no control over. deealoneMany of the characters in The Life and Home of Gerbi Norberg are Ojibwa and therefore have names which are hard for the Western ear: Bezhinee, Pamequonaishcung, Zawanimkee and Asawasanay. It is nonsensical to shorten the names to Bez, Pam, Zaw and Ass. As much as that may help the reader move through the text, the lyrical nature – and hence integrity – of the characters is