Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Names can be a burden

I grew up in Brooklyn and hung out with a lot of Greek kids in our area. Our parents, God bless them , gave us some great names. Pericles, Alexander, Sotiris, Constandino, Grigorios, Sophocles, there was even Aristotle. The girls fared no better, Aphrodite, Zina, Persephone, Ourania, Iphigenia, and Athena to name a few.

Try living with some of these names in Brooklyn, at school, or in the Army.

I do not believe it was just a Greek thing, our Italian friends had some beauts as well.

In the Army, my capitan was named Deatherage, he could only be an Army officer, a cop, or a killer. He wasn’t even a Greek, it happens to all of us, names.

Our names became a burden or a dream to aspire to.

Not always successful, a rather plain girl with the name of Aphrodite.

Sophocles was one of the worst students I knew.

As for Pericles, he was a poleman for the electric company.

Names become a yoke around our necks sometimes.

Our parents proudly gave them to us, perhaps we will not burden our kids as much, but my son is Polixronis, I hope he lives up to it.

I somehow cannot imagine a future Greek kid called Biff. We will still burden our kids with some beauts.

We give names, I suppose, to help define our dreams for our kids, at least in most cases.

In South Africa, my driver was called Zero, he had brothers, you guessed it, One, Two and Three. Not too many dreams there.

Our gardner’s name was Smart, you could imagine his parent’s dreams for him, although not very successful.

Our Greek names are not just different to the ear, but they all mean something, usually from ancient Greek history or the Greek Orthodox Church, you know, those Saints.

Whatever your name is, see it as a blessing, even though your friends are making your life miserable.

One of the good things about living in Greece is that Grigorios seems fairly normal amongst the other names.


  1. Beautifully done, Greg. Funny and true. I once knew a Puerto Rican fireman in Brooklyn who named hs sons Jose and Hose-B.

  2. Nice. I think maybe unusual names aren't so bad when there's sense of history behind them, whether ancient or family. And even when they're hopeful (like Smart). But I can't get on board with the made up ones, especially those with apostrophes in them (Rau'shee, anyone? Sha'niqua?). I say you got off easy!

  3. B for spelling, A+ for content. That's yoke, not yolk, Greg. Unless you're just yoking.

  4. thanks Ron, I was just yolking, but now it's fixed I think