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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Les Is Not More

At the end of his song, "A Boy Named Sue," Johnny Cash exhorts his listeners to name any impending children "Bill, George, anything but Sue." If I may be so bold, I'd like to add that anyone considering naming their kid Len should give the idea a second thought or three before doing so.

Now, I like my name. I feel comfortable wearing it. I've never wanted to change it or to adopt a stage or pen name. It was my name, it was unique (when coupled with my last name, I'm one-of-a-kind), and I was proud of it.

Unfortunately, it is also a name fraught with complications. First there are soundalikes: Lynn, Lem, Lon, and Glen. Then there are the near-misses: Lee, Leon, and Leo. I have a three letter first name (all right, it's really Leonard, but that one's no picnic, either), and I have to spell it for people all the time. "No," I'll say, "L-E-N," putting a little extra spin on the E. And still they get it wrong half the time.

Just earlier today, I got an email from a professional acquaintance in response to an email of mine. And even though I had signed my email "Len," he began his with "Les." And this is someone I have known for at least three years and with whom I worked in the same small office for several months. In fact, I saw him at a party the other night, and he called me Les at least once then, too. As did someone else.

The funny thing is that back when I was born, my parents named me Leonard out of respect for my mother's father, Len. He was dying of cancer, and they thought the gesture would please him. When they came to him after I was born and told him the name, he replied, "Why didn't you name him Patrick?" Which not only goes to show that no good deed goes unpunished, but also that he may have been warning them off the pitfalls of the name.

The other funny thing is that they could have made a hundred bucks just by naming me Henry after my father's father. In fact, they could have picked up a hundred bones just for naming me Yvonne, after my grandmother. Maybe not the perfect boy's name, but at least it's not Sue.


Anonymous said...

How about having a first name that elicits this line... "is that your first name?" I think we should all start saying our last name first.

I recently went to West Texas. They had a rip roarin' good time with my name.

John Doh!

Anonymous said...

I've been writing a lot Les lately but it doesn't mean I'm not out there rooting for us.

Turk Mail

Len said...


Good to see you stop by. You've been on my mind. I hope you get back to writing Maury rather than Les because we need you out here.

Morris Lester

Thomas said...

Is this a case where Les is not Moore?