There’s no middle ground with middle names. You either love them or hate them.
Or, if you’re a politician, you treat them however the latest opinion poll indicates. (“It’s way past time this nation took the bold bipartisan move of giving Harry S. Truman an actual posthumous middle name – not for our own benefit, but FOR THE CHILDREN.”)
Middle names come from various sources. My son and I both carry on my late father’s middle name of Lewis. My brother was named for the surgeon who delivered him. (For years, I thought his middle name was Stork.)
Some people select trendy/classic/elegant/powerful/unspellable monikers from a Name Your Baby book. (This category still slightly outpaces the hot Name Your Man-Bun genre.) Some parents whip open their dusty Bible just long enough to jab their finger at a random name. (“Welcome to the world, Michael Plague-of-Locusts Gildersleeve.”)
Many middle names are derived from the mother’s maiden name. I’m not if this is a blow against the patriarchy, a way to keep a proud old family name from fading into obscurity (“Don’t ever let the world forget there were Pufnstufs living among them or…or else…I’m drawing a blank here”) or just the father-in-law’s revenge. (“You despoiled my little girl, but now your child will perpetuate the name of the man who despoiled your wife’s mo–…hey, this is starting to sound like a vicious cycle! Can we just watch the game and chill? And call me Dad.”)
Some doting parents gift their child with a retro name that that they hope will make them a Leader of Men – assuming the men are in a barbershop quartet or serving as extras in a Three Stooges short.
Other people seem to have malleable middle names. One week they’re bragging “Dependability is my middle name.” The next it’s “Gourmet Chef is my middle name.” Enjoy your bragging, folks. The Social Security office will think it’s hilarious when you try to collect your first check.
Do these people think a middle name works like a magic talisman? Then why don’t they scamper down to the courthouse and switch over to “Invulnerable to Type-2 Diabetes” or “Never Receives Junk Phone Calls”?
Mothers like to use their children’s full names to underscore the seriousness of whatever they’re yelling at them. Everyone knows that phrases such as “Amber, don’t put the cat in the dryer” or “Johnny, get that nail gun away from the baby’s soft spot” are just light-hearted, casual suggestions. It’s only when mom brings out the “Lulubelle” or the “Cuthbert” that things get REAL.
Middle names, of course, gain their greatest infamy during roll call in school. Giggles, guffaws and juvenile pandemonium ensue when the teacher unveils embarrassing secret after embarrassing secret.
That gives me an idea. What we really need to do is require full-blown middle names at places that skirt by with middle initials. Get ready for the stand-up routine and the two-drink minimum at the DMV!
How do you feel about your middle name? Many people wear their first, middle and last name proudly. Of course, 95 percent of these people are captains of industry, poets or linked to grassy knolls.
John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt would probably rock iambic pentameter, but I wouldn’t want him within 100 miles of a dignitary’s motorcade.
Unless the Gallup Poll was down with that, of course.