A Rose By Any Other Name – Why Bruce Wills Was Wrong And I Wish I’d Been Named After A Dog
In the film “Pulp Fiction”, Bruce Willis’ character is asked by a lady taxi driver what his name means, after she has told him that her name means “House of Wolves”. Bruce’s character, who is called Butch, famously replies: “I’m American Honey. Our names don’t mean shit.”
It’s a great line. There’s not a shred of truth in it mind. All names mean something. They have power.
My name, for instance, is Michael. It’s a very common, very biblical name. Solid. Reliable. A statement of intent in life. The thing is though, it’s not a statement at all. It is, in fact, a rhetorical question. It means “Who is like God?”
It’s a way of declaring the greatness of God and the comparative failings of humanity. So, it is a statement come to think of it, but not a good one. It says “Who is like God? Nobody, that’s who and certainly not you, Sunshine.”
I’m not just called Michael though. I’m not like Madonna or Cher. I do have a non-vestigial surname. It’s Grimes.
The Internet is a little bit confused as to the meaning of this surname, but the general consensus appears to be that it is of Norse origin. Well, that’s a bit more like it. My first name may be pointing out what a fundamentally flawed human being I am, but my surname means that the reason I am fundamentally flawed is because I’m a fucking Viking!
The name itself comes from the word Grimr, which means “mask wearer” or “shape shifter”. It’s apparently another name for Odin. This pleased me greatly when I found it out. My first name may be a rather depressing rhetorical question, but my surname is a smartarse answer to that question. Which sums me up quite neatly come to think of it.
“Who is like God?”
“No he isn’t”.
“Tell that to the next Viking berserker you meet. See how far you get.”
( Cue self-satisfied grin and casually flicked V-signs on my part).
I nearly wasn’t called Michael, though. My dad wanted to call me Samm. This was not a strange abbreviation of Samuel (meaning : “God has heard”). It was just Samm, after my dad’s favourite dog, a gigantic but exceedingly soppy Bull Mastiff.
The womenfolk in my family where aghast at the thought me, a loverly ickle baby, being named after a massive hound. So, naturally, my dad didn’t get his way and Michael it was.
But for a bit of feminine solidarity, I might have ended up with a name that meant “Bull Mastiff Shape Shifter”. A boy could go far with a name like that. Maybe I’d have got a bit part in Pulp Fiction.
© Copyright Michael Grimes 2015