A Quandary

A name is not so simple. Especially if you have so many. There is the fundamental, rhetorical question – the Shakesperian question: What is in a name?

I have had many names.

Andrew

Andy

AndLand

Drew

Tex

Leland

Lee

Lee-Lee

Mr. L

Eli

… I’m sure there are more…

It wasn’t until yesterday that I realized how important a name is. – More importantly, how much it can mean to another person… how it can make them feel.

I have a sister. A [wonderful sister I wouldn’t trade in for all the answered prayers throughout history. Now, normally, since I was twenty years old I introduced myself as Leland. That is my name. My middle name. But LELAND was also a character; it was a mask to wear, a manifestation of misbehavior I could manipulate.

(Don’t ever call me LELAND in front of my sister. Those little annoying and uncontrollable hairs on the back of her neck stand up in fury and frustration. And, knowing my sister, she wants to correct the misunderstanding.)

To her and to my family, I’m ANDY. Or, the horrible and doomed DREW. DREW is not a character. It’s a vocalized, prison inmate number put into a title. When my mother calls out DREW in one of her sinister, yet-oh-so-silent-way, I’m in trouble. I’d done screwed up in some embarrassing, juvenile way, and I better pay attention to what she has to say; otherwise, I’ll be digging myself into a deeper grave… lighting the match to ignite my own funeral pyre…

I’m almost 40.

Hearing that haunting, single-syllable word – DREW – still, to this very day, straightens my spinal cord, flatlines my fury, and forces me to pay attention.

Shakespeare may have had a point. A good point, at that. A word – a name – can be irrelevant. “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.” That may be true. But Shakespeare never met my sister. Or my mother.

My name is Andrew Leland Locke.

If ever I offer my hand for a shake, I will always be thinking about what name I should give… what person I should be. It should be an easy question to answer. Just be me. Right? Well, the bitch of it is ALL those names and personalities are ME. Parts of me rearranged, put together, taken apart, lashed back together, and presented.

I guess that is why I like to stay home so much.

When I asked my wife what my name was, she said: “My husband. Mine.”

I can live with that. And that is the name I want.

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