So while sifting through bills I can’t pay and mail I neglected to open because it resembled a bill I couldn’t pay, I couldn’t help but notice how many ways in which my name gets butchered on a daily basis. While I understand it’s a doozy, I don’t get why two middle names and a hyphenation just cause people filling out paperwork to go into anaphylactic shock.
Jonathan T Pittswiley? Jonathan M Wiley? I mean even my own school, a place that’s supposed to be well-brained, doesn’t have the computer capacity to do anything other than spell Jonathan Toussaint M Pitts-Wiley on anything official. Word? Nobody thought, “Hm, that looks kind of stupid. Why don’t we just go two middle initials? Sonsobitches even put that on my diploma after I filled out the paperwork requesting that they do exactly not that. This was especially annoying considering that, given the various internationals and ethnics in the joint, my name probably ranks in the bottom third with regard to degree of difficulty.
The above aggravation of course all assumes that people get the “P” of Pitts-Wiley. Many a time people have heard an “F” and stand somewhat amazed when they see the first blackest Irishman their eyes have e’er before seen. And yet, the whole ball of wax can still be surpassed by the fact that people cannot read and thus have neglected to remember their fundamental. W-I-L-E-Y. There are two definite vowels, one sometimes vowel, and one crucial “L”. It’s a long “I”, people, a long “I”. Somehow, people manage to read “Willy.” Really? Really?
Still, the one that chaps my ass the most–and the one that worked me into a lather enough to sit down and write this–is when people think my name is John. My first name is Jonathan; J-O-N for short. I detest the name John; it’s common and bland. Jon? That has a little mystery. It kinda forces you to say, “There’s gotta be more there.” John? That’s about it. And don’t get me started on those clowns with the Johnathan spelling. That’s wacker than John because it tries to play both sides against the middle and incorporate it all. You’re either Jonathan or John, buddy. Pick one. And while we’re on the topic, I’m not terribly fond of the Jonathan derivative, Jonathon. It lends itself to jon-a-thon, which would only be cool for a 21st birthday party theme, and the rest of the time it’s probably being uttered by that annoying acquaintance that you don’t actually like. That’s just no good.
Obviously, there are instances in which a person could just not know. If I introduce myself as Jon and you never see my name in print, the onus is essentially on me. But if you’ve known me and had occasion to see my name in print, I’m damn near offended by the error. In the digital age, there’s almost no excuse because we very likely communicate in some electronic form that states my proper government (kind of like on this page). So many times, on invitations, place settings, mail, I’ve seen my government just abused. It’s gotten to the point that I approach these scenarios with a touch of apprehension. I’m a guy that’s big on names, you know that, so imagine my disappointment when I see my name spelled wrong by people who are supposed to know better. My name is Jonathan; my peoples call me Jon for short.
Speaking of which, if I introduce myself as Jonathan–which it looks like I’m going to have to go back to–do not automatically shorten it to Jon; one, because you don’t know me like that and it’s rudely assumptive and two, because your dumb ass will probably make the mistake of thinking “John” in your head, then you’ll very likely type “John” into your phone and the next thing you know, you’re on the slippery slope toward pissing me off with a John Pitts-Wiley evite. I can see it in your eyes when you do it.
Now, as I’ve stated in the past, I have about eleven different appellations derived from my government. Eleven. Depending on who you are and where you fall in my life, you’re free to use any number of them–I really stress the who you are and where you fall thing because people who use nicknames out of their jurisdiction get liked less. I wish I could say that wasn’t true, but it is. Still, sometimes it’s good to get refreshed with the basics:
My name is Jonathan Toussaint Miller Pitts-Wiley; my peoples call me Jon.
Peace to the Last Real Niggas Alive.