I’ve experienced a lifelong identity crisis, of sorts, because of my name (or names), and I’ve actually kind of enjoyed it – most of the time.
The controversy began in 1970, around the time that I made my almost 10-pound newborn debut (sorry, Mom). Apparently, the discussion between my parents centered on whether to name me “Jase” or “Jason,” both names originating from a Greek word meaning “healer” or “royal pain in the rear.”
Other than referring to me as their massive baby who was like delivering a propane tank, my parents finally settled on the more formal “Jason” for my birth certificate–thinking that I could later go by “Jase” if I wanted to pretend to be cool.
They then proceeded to call me by my family nickname, “Bub,” from that point forward. In fact, it didn’t really sink in that I had any other name than “Bub” until I entered public school. All I had heard myself called for the first 5 years of my life was “Bub.”
“Bub, get that battery out of your nose!”
“Bub, don’t drink the aquarium water!”
“Bub, stop licking the television screen!”
I initially responded with disbelief when my parents advised me that my kindergarten teacher would call me “Jason” anytime she asked me to stop eating the Elmer’s glue. But I eventually accepted the idea – sort of.
Shortly before kindergarten began, I proposed that I be called “Bub-Jase-Jason” at school – until my big brother assured me that such a name would probably guarantee me a weekly wedgie from my classmates.
I finally settled on “Jase” for educational settings, which, by the time I entered high school, had been corrupted to “Jass” by my thoughtful and loving closest friends. (The “J” was silent, by the way.)
In my post-mullet teen years, I worked as a lifeguard during the summers and wore a pair of knock-off Ray-Ban Aviator sunglasses, which prompted some of the more nearsighted swimmers to boost my ego by calling me “Maverick” after the “Top Gun” character. My abs were actually out of the closet back then. I miss them.
By the time I went off to college at Texas A&M University, I was back to “Jase,” thank goodness, but the fun didn’t end there. On the first day of my Spanish III class, I noticed that I was the only student in the entire room whose name was of non-Hispanic origin, and when the professor reached my name on the roster, I guess she didn’t want me to feel left out, so she pronounced it “José Grávez.” (I still ask my wife to call me that when we’re eating Mexican food.)
These days, the most fun I have with my name is when my social media friends hit the wrong key and address me as “Jade.” I always just laugh it off and tell them I expect to see them in the front row at my next drag show.
Yes, my names have been varied throughout my life, but I’ve appreciated them all in one way or another, especially after becoming a father. At home, I’m mainly addressed as “Dad,” “Diddy” or “Can I use the credit card?”
And it surely is comforting that I can still go visit my parents and hear their familiar advice, “Bub, get that battery out of your nose!”
Graves is an award-winning humor columnist from East Texas. His columns have been featured in Texas Escapes magazine, The Shreveport Times, The Longview News Journal, and The Kilgore News Herald. Contact Graves at email@example.com