Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My Name is not Brandon

My name is not Brandon. This is a shocking revelation to most of the world. My name is Bradley. B-R-A-D-L-E-Y. For some reason or another, people ask me my name, and all they hear is, "Brandon." There are several possible sources for this confusion. For one, I find Brandon a much more common name (common being a word I use in the most literal terms), while we Bradleys are a rare few. How many Bradleys do you know? Me and someone else, and that's probably it. Around the time of my birth, I think Brandon was having a big moment. Everyone was naming their kid Brandon. It was the equivalent of today's Tate or Landon or Trent. And don't get me started on those Jims, Michaels, and Matthews who have never had a problem. Pity be to those whose name begins with two consonants. We have given people so much information in one syllable, that they oftentimes cannot finish our names. Pity the Whitley and the Whineys, the Bretts, Brents, Brandts, and Brads (also not my name, but that is another point altogether). Once or twice I had class with another gentleman named Brett, and once I actually had class with another Bradley. Ensue total chaos.

My name is especially confusing for the Mexican gentlemen I work with. They ask me my name, I tell them, and they vaguely sputter, "Brandon?" I repeat. They stare. I don't know which part of my name does it for them, but without fail, they struggle along. At times, I have given them my "Spanish" name, a name someone told me stands for my own name's equivalent in Spanish. Brario. I never have never met someone from a Spanish speaking country with this name. So, I will give this substitute, hope for the best thinking, Pedro = Peter, Miguel = Michael, Juan = John, but more often than not, no dice. More than once, I have settled for chico (or as Inez and Josephina at my college food court liked to call me, "chico hermoso" - beautiful boy). In fact, there is much confusion passing between me and those of a Latin descent at any time of day. I speak a decent amount of Spanish, but I don't think I am fooling anyone as to where my country of origin is or what my first language was. Throughout work we share confused stares at each other, neither of us knowing what the fuck the other just said. This is especially prevalent when my amigos will decide to change the subject to whatever is on their minds. They mention the hurricane in Japan, the falling economy, my dating life, what happened yesterday, and I am totally lost. I prefer to stick to familiar, simple topics. The weather. I hate my job. Good afternoon. Ask me to explain a childhood story, and I will stumble for a half hour. But commands I do great with. Pon la mesa. Lava los platos. Lleva el pan. Chingame mucho. I'm at my best being bossy.

And then there is the problem of my last name. This is an annoyance that has been plaguing my family for years. My last name is Wantz. Pronounced like "pants" (people have been loving that analogy for years). We are from the Midwest. The more twang, the more nasal, the more "ehnhh" you can make a word, the better. Our surname is no exception. I'll answer the phone, and someone is looking for Mr. Wants or Wontz or sometimes even Wence. There is no one here by that name. All too often the cheesy-minded coach or teacher or neighbor will come up with the genius line "Bradley wantz _____." Genius. How original. You really got me there. You really butchered. Now, it's not like I have an especially confounding last name. It is not so ethnically transribed as to be a mystery to Middle America. It's only five letters after all. So why is it so hard to say?

Something must be done about this situation. Clearly, it is my destiny to become famous, so people will learn to say my name. All my family will thank me. The years of patient repeats will be over. At the slightest suggestion of "Brandon" or any word that doesn't rhyme with pants, I will simply reply, "Do you know who I am?!?" Fifth grade students will be embarrassed when they mispronounce my notorious name during current events. Children will scoff at their parents for stumbling over a name as simple and brilliant. I will be hip. I will be famous. And beautiful. And pronounced.

What I'm Watching: Valentino, The Last Emperor, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, Red Riding Hood

What I'm Reading: A Room of One's Own

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