The Old Coot offers advice to the ‘two-name’ people
“What’s in a name?” That’s a question posed in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Apparently nothing, Juliet concluded, “”That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”But, she was wrong! A person by any other name does not smell as sweet, so to speak. Take Robert, for example. Robert is Bobby when his mom yells out the kitchen window, “Bobby, come on in, it’s time for dinner.” He’s Robert when she has to tell him to do his homework for the third time. But, it changes drastically when she uses his middle name, like when she discovers his brand new, grass stained pants wadded up under his bed. He’s not Bobby. He’s not Robert. He’s Robert Charles Anderson, as in, “ROBERT CHARLES ANDERSON, come up to your room this minute!”
Even he knows he’s not a rose, not when his mom uses his middle name. He’s Bad Bobby now, not a sweet smelling flower. It’s the real reason we have middle names. So, we’ll know how much trouble we’re in. Some people, not many, don’t have middle names. They escape the horror of being summoned by all three names. It’s not the same when mom says, “Robert Anderson, come here this minute!” (You need a middle name to get the full measure of how much trouble you’re in.)
People who work in a corporate environment don’t like co-workers who only have two names. They had an easier time growing up, never having faced the full wrath of an angry mother. In addition, they throw off the symmetry on routing slips, the ones where memos and reading materials are routed through the department using a rectangular slip of paper stapled to the top, with everyone’s initials listed in a column. A two-initial person messes up the alignment – JHR, MWL, IMS, PK, JMR, RET, WCL. That “PK” in the middle throws the whole thing out of kilter. We’re resentful of him. “He wasn’t brought up right.” How could he be, having never having been summoned with a three-word name? “Come here this minute, Paul Komar,” let PK off easy.
Two-name people aren’t even aware that they live a privileged life and mess up things for the rest of us. It’s not just routing slips; they throw off the alignment in telephone directories and organization charts. Nobody says it out loud, but three-name people never really trust people who are middle-name challenged. If you are one, and just making your way out into the world, take some advice from an old coot. Get yourself a middle name. It will help you succeed in the corporate world. When you pick one out, ask your mother to summon you using all three names. Then, you’ll understand how other people grew up, and why they’ll resent you if you remain a two-name person. That’s why I’m changing my name from Old Coot to Old “Something” Coot. I can’t decide on the “something,” Stupid? Dumb? Grouchy? Contrary? If you have a suggestion let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.