Friday, January 30, 2009

What's in a name

At my last job, before I moved to Memphis, there was an officer there named Nimrod. I'm not kidding. Just like the Biblical spelling and the modern-day euphemism.

And rather than going by his middle name or a nick name or, hell, even getting his name changed (I believe he has ample grounds) he was proud of the name. In fact, when he told me his name and I kind of looked at him for a moment, he shot back with a calm, practiced defense, "Nimrod was a great king in the Bible. Sometimes people don't think about those kinds of things."

Well, buddy, I'm sorry, but the name Nimrod might as well be mud in present-day American culture. I'm pretty sure it has to do with the fact that Nimrod is generally tied to the construction of the Tower of Babel and most preachers would point out that this act, while good-intentioned, was dumb. This is the officer's legacy.

But he was proud. Growing up with a name like that, I suppose there are really only two options (providing that you go by that name), 1) Sink or 2) Swim. This particular officer was forced to fight for the pride of his name. Maybe that contributed to his success -- he was a high-ranking officer. Even though he chose to be selective in how he thought about or mentioned his namesake's heritage, he was proud of it.

That's why when I hear about people naming their kids Apple or Moongate or Ratchet or Algebra, I may shake my head, but I've got evidence that it can still turn out pretty well.

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