What’s in a Name?

the Antichrist?

What’s in a name? I ask you oh dear and gentle reader, if you’re into numerology quite a bit. Lest we forget the 666’s of Ronald Wilson Regan, and conspiracy tales of old- that Regan was a minion of the devil. The devil of cloven hoof and pointy pitchfork one is to presume. Personally I like to think that he was the Anti-Christ, and the second coming sort of lost his or her way somewhere in Los. Angeles wound up working in bikini pictures that wound up on Cinemax, but I digress.

Rip TornNames are in interesting thing; it’s no surprise of course of the Hollywood types who have changed their names, after all what better for a manufactured name for a manufactured image. Though in the case of Rip Torn, you really have to wonder what they were thinking. Names are changed to protect the innocent, and the not so innocent. Wives routinely change their names to match their husbands, and of course the new age husbands are now changing theirs to match their wives or worse entering the hyphenation generation.

Does a name define you? My mother wanted to name me Christopher Robin, as opposed to Christopher Anthony – a somewhat Appling trend my father started of naming his children after him, that started with me and has been passed on to his next three children. It was my father who decided that being named after a character from Winnie the Pooh would all but guarantee playground fisticuffs. But there were still foursquare dustups, in point of fact I was the official nerd of the neighborhood, (yeah like you didn’t see that one coming) nothing was stopping me from getting my ass kicked. It was I fear, my destiny.

Not that middle names make a difference, they usually only come into play when your on a first date, and you have that moment where you look at each others ID’s (usually whilst being carded) then there is that cute moment where you see each others middle names, talking about the great aunt you never knew that your named after. Gawk at the truly horrible photo on said Id, and make many awkward jokes. On the plus side if it all goes well from there you will most likely be making out within the hour.

My real issues cam from my nickname, the name I was called by everyone until I went to college. It is a name that would stir my other pacifistic self into a furious frenzy at the mere utterance of it. It was a name that didn’t define me so much as enslave me, trap me into a little box. A box with a brass nameplate, the name: Kip.

Being the weird kid is bad enough, but being the weird kid, with the equally weird name and you have a margarita of misfortune. I grew up in Fridley, Minnesota, A suburb of Minneapolis in the North East. For some reason NE s’ are the same everywhere; cold a little industrial, tight knit and a bad place to be a stranger. Fridley is no exception. With a strange name and a Prince Valiant haircut (thanks mom!) and knickers- yeah no matter how you slice, some body is getting punched in the playground at 3.

Kip KingTom Hanks as KipKip winger

My parents thought they had invented the name Kip, or Kippy as it was known till high school. This was before there were the “famous” Kip’s: Kip Winger,Kip King (a stand up comic of little renown), and the guy Tom Hanks played on Bossism Buddies. Kip as a name set the bar pretty low for greatness.Kip is the guy who has a tough time getting a date. Kip should be somewhere in Nantucket rowing a boat reading Emerson. You will never be tough if your name is Kip, being a Goth kid in a prep school named Kip- yeah that’s just unfortunate of course that’s who I was.

My first day of high school, I had decided that I would be Chris, then of course as the first home room bell rang, and the very first roll call of my new school career started, and I knew that this would be the day that everything would change, I waited anxiously practicing how I would say this name that I had never used before in spite of having been born with it. Finally my name was called, and I was supposed to say how it was pronounced, etc. I took a breath and just as I was about to say “call me Chris”, the one person in the school, who came from my old school blurted out” His name is Kip” and just like that I was a Kip.

Oddly enough the same girl went to college with me, this time I stopped her in time and became Chris. But to be honest it never felt quite like my name, sure I answer to it and obviously it’s my name, but for the longest time it felt a little foreign. Like a name you give a cat, because the cat needs a name, and eventually they answer to it- mostly just as habit.

While I might not have been completely feeling “Chris” I had a full Hate on for Kip. I refused to answer to that name or any variation of it. Which mostly just served to make the holidays awkward. To this day Chris never sounds right coming out my parents’ mouths. Its like they have to think about it first. Anyone who called me Kip, was met with scowls and glares, if I was drunk enough the threat of violence- of course it was a threat I could never make good on.

From that point on I was only called Kip by people who wanted to make me very very angry, mostly ex band mates, and the occasional ex girl friend. Kip became my secret, something I would only admit to at the most clandestine of moments, or alternately after consuming large amounts of Whiskey. Kip became my shame, the flowers in the attic of my troubled youth.

About a month ago, a drunk friend and soon to be former bandmate called me Kip in an attempt to pick a fight, this time I just shrugged my shoulders and said “ eh, that’s all you got?” and walked on.

Names only have power if we give it to them. Melvin is arguably the dorkiest name ever, but Mel Gibson is incredibly smooth, or at least he was until he became the most reviled Anti-Semite this side of Hitler. The point is there is power in a name, what took down Rumplestiltskien? Guessing his name, Babba Yagga? Same thing, it seems a lot of magic is taken down by the mere act of knowing a name. What is a name after all if not the truth.

So know you know one of my truths, but in telling my secret, it lost its power over me and I regained a little bit of my past. So you can call me Kip and I won’t want to shank you, I might not respond but you gotta start somewhere.

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