Monday, July 07, 2003

Naming of Names

I went into a restaurant and put my name on the waiting list, watching closely what she wrote down. Amazing, she spelled it correctly. Did you know that easily a third of the times I give my first name, people will spell it H E N E R Y. Now, this has been going on for decades.

My birth name is Henry James Melton, but I didn't know that for years. My maternal grandfather was named Henry and to ease family confusion, they called me Jimmy. By the time I hit school the confusion fell on me. Every form I had to fill out for years had my full name, and then (Jimmy) to let people know that to actually call me. Maybe it was just my imagination, but as I got older, the name field on the forms got smaller.

Came the summer before I was to enter high school. Somehow I was invited to attend a student orientation event of some kind, and I entered my name as Henry Melton. With all these new people, I was just Henry. It came natural to me, and it wasn't until much later that my family had to deal with the confusion as teachers started talking to my Mother about 'Henry', and she wasn't sure who they were talking about.

Perhaps it was just a growing up thing, but I like my real name. I have always written my fiction under Henry Melton. Henry James Melton is a bit much, but one of those days I need to read some Henry James and see if there is anything I need to know about his style. I think I have been avoiding him all these years.

Now, back to Henery. I used to blame it on Hermans Hermits -- you know the song. But having suffered through the illiteracy of a whole generation of restaurant waiting list composers, I now suspect these people have never heard of "Henery the Eighth" and are just making the mistake naturally. If anyone has a theory, I am all ears. Drop me a line if you have any thoughts.