Whenever strangers, new acquaintances or sales clerks seeking to check my credit card see my first name for the first time, I often get the same general reaction:
• A puzzled look at the collection of letters;
• An erroneous attempt at pronouncing it (or, if you prefer the positive outlook, a successful attempt at mispronouncing it);
• A general announcement along the lines of “Well, that’s certainly an interesting name. How’d you get that?”
For the record, it’s Strother with a long “o” (rhymes with “over,” not “other,”) and it’s an old family name. I’m the fifth generation of Strothers but the first with a middle name. The previous incarnations all carried the name of “Strother D. Hall,” followed by the appropriate Roman numerals, up to my dad who is Strother D. Hall IV. I managed to get a middle name because of my mother’s outright refusal to have a child with only an initial. Although she didn’t realize it at the time, that decision turned out to shape my life, as walking through life as Strother D. Hall V would have led me with no choice but to be a pompous, pretentious Southern lawyer, complete with seersucker suits and porkpie hats.
And, since everyone calls my dad “Doc” (inspired from Strother II, who was an actual physician), my mom assumed I would get stuck with the nickname “Little Doc.” Instead, she named me after Kevin Grevey, a popular University of Kentucky basketball player at that time (and one, apparently, she just thought was dreamy). A few people didn’t get the memo, though, and still called me “Little Doc,” much to my mom’s dismay.
Note: Oddly enough, the Strother D. Hall name doesn’t follow a straight line. It originated with my great-great-grandfather (I), then veered over to my great-great-uncle (II) before heading back to my grandfather (III) and then my father (IV). My family decided to reboot the franchise with my birth, making me, I guess the Batman Begins of Strother D. Halls.
Strother D. Hall III
I’ve had several people suggest that I start going by my first name, but after almost 32 years of being called Kevin, I’m not sure I would ever learn to respond to Strother. There have been times the thought of switching appealed to me, but there’s to much history associated with the name, primarily the middle school taunts of being called “Stroker,” which I knew to be embarrassing despite not fully knowing what they meant. I probably just thought, “Wow, these people certainly hate Dracula.”
And while I think the name Strother is a perfectly fine name (and a great name for my band, assuming I don’t actually go with Randy’s Doghouse Nuptials), I’ve long since grown accustomed to it, if for no other reason than it doesn’t really stand out among my friends. Take a look at those close to me, and you’ll see an unusual collection of names, which, I guess, comes from a mix of Southern lineage and creative parents:
I am friends with a Spencer, which isn’t altogether an unusual name but it’s at least different around here (honestly, how many Spencers do you know?), and a Phoebe. I also dated a girl named Saranda, which she claimed came from her mother naming her after Saran Wrap. I’m not sure that story’s true, but at this point, who really cares because it’s a great story.
I’m sure my friends all received their fair share of ridicule at some point or another over their names, but by this point, hopefully, they’ve grown to not only accept them but to embrace them as being excellent monikers and symbols of their distinct personalities. After all, it could be worse, as they could be Britney, Brittney, Britany, Brittany, Britnee, Brittnee, Britanee, Brittannee, Britknee, Britni, Alex, Alix, Alexx, Alexxx …