I'm not your bitch, don't hang your shit on me.

Monday, February 14, 2005

A horse is a horse, of course, of course

But, when is a horse not a horse? That is a very difficult thing to answer.

We are taught, at a very young age, that a horse is an animal with bright eyes, a mane of silky hair and powerful legs allowing it to run majestically through fields.

Of course, that description is used to describe a couple of other animals.

So what makes a horse, a horse? The answer lies in its spelling. H-O-R-S-E.

The process of spelling is the most simple way to identify (and sometimes objectify) a person, place or thing.

There is a link to names and their spellings; a kindred relationship where one does not (and will not) occur without the other.

The same can be said with people and their first names. People identify themselves with their names, no matter how they spell them. Unfortunately, there are quite a few ways to spell Jamie, Jennifer and Loquisha.

Okay, maybe not Loquisha.

But, what happens when we share our names with more than one person? I’m glad you asked.

A few years ago, Madonna wanted to change her Web site name from www.madonnafanclub.com to www.madonna.com. She claimed that she should have the right to name her Web site after herself. Whenever people talked about Madonna, they immediately thought of her.

She has a valid point.

But, she didn’t count on the fact that there is another equally famous Madonna. Has anyone ever heard of her? Virgin Mary…? Mother of God…?

Thankfully, her situation with the Vatican was resolved with an undisclosed dollar amount. But, the rest of the population does not have a Swiss bank account to resolve delicate situations such as those that compromise fragile egos.

That brings me back to the question: Do we identify ourselves with our names, or do our names identify themselves with us?

At the beginning of each school semester, students fear having to go through personal introductions for the umpteenth time for every new teacher.

“Hi, my name is Steven…,” I say as I begin my usual spiel.

“Hi, Steven,” says the teacher. “How do you spell your name?”


I will never spell my name S-T-E-P-H-E-N. It may sound the same, taste the same, lower your cholesterol and get you six-pack abs, but it feels different to me.

“Is it Steven, or do you go by Steve?” the teacher asks, leaning closer.

“Well,” I begin, knowing very well that I have to answer as politely as I can without having to offend the teacher on the first day, “you can call me Steve, but I won’t answer back.” She looks up and raises an eyebrow.

Okay, so I am a little touchy about my name, but I know that I am not the only one. Everyone believes that their names are what make them distinct individuals. They can change their hair colour, their style of clothing and their physical appearance, but their names will always be unique to them.

Steven was the name given to me by my parents. Steven is the name that is a part of my identity.

I am who I am.

I am Steven.


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