Saturday, July 12, 2008

Back to Pat with Pat

My whole life I was called Pat. I hated the name and I hated the name Patrick as well. My middle name is James and I wanted to be P. James as I thought that would be better. But knowing I was named for my grandfather I decided to stick with Pat. I ran for Student Body Vice President in grammar school with the campaign slogan "Go to Bat with Pat." I thought "Go to Bat FOR Pat" was a bit much so I changed it, but once word got out I was going to vote for myself and not my opponent I lost by a landslide. It was the last ego/bit of confidence I would have for a while.

When my voice got deeper and my tone flatter I remember having difficulty getting people to understand me when I said my name. It always sounded like "POT" and I was forever getting "Tod?" asked back to me when I said my name on the phone. Yes, Tod. I still don't get it, but it happened often. This was turning from frustration/embarrassment into a hang up. One of my earliest.

I went through high school and college as Pat. I moved to Scotland and I was Pat. And to some affectionately (if not derogatorily?) , "Paddy." Once I got into banking back in San Francisco I felt that I was not being taken seriously enough. (Sadly by me, but I ignored that.) I thought the obvious solution was to buy some suits (a good suggestion by my mentor at the time) and change my name to Patrick. This was far easier to understand and it sounded solid. Patrick it was. Patrick it is. Never had the Tod problem again, but respect didn't come flooding in either. I was Patrick now and never thought any more of it.

Moved to LA for 12.5 years. Patrick. Moved to New York. Patrick.

For some time before my move to New York I was struggling. Having lost both my parents (who called me Pat) and getting older, I have found myself longing for some roots, some sort of touchstone of who I was or some return to what I thought I rejected. I never really felt like Patrick, but still lived in fear of pronouncing Pat since I am a mumbler. But nonetheless I have been slowly moving "Back to Pat with Pat." The pipe band in New York I joined introducing myself as Pat. Irish folk are the easiest to get to embrace this.

My family mostly calls me Pat and I am "Uncle Pat" to their kids. What to do with all the years and years of people who know me only as Patrick? It is hard to switch. I have a friend Sue who I think now is going by Susan. I know her as Sue. I guess if she asked me I would make the switch. Why is it so hard to comply with the "person who must be called" just because we don't initially know them that way?

I get from some: "Patrick is so much more solid." "You look so much more like a Patrick than a Pat." ( I would look so much more like a Jason if that is how they first met me.) People are inflexible initially with a name they only have to call, not be! If I were to have a sex change, this whole issue would be moot, but I would be farther from my roots still and the eyeliner would do my head in.

When I first met my brother-in-law he had a Renaissance Faire name which nearly killed my dad, but now we call him Jeff. A good choice as that is his name. He gave up the ren fair name and we just embraced that change happily. Hey Jeffrey! (Nah, he would never go for that.)

I like Pat because it is familiar and I feel that is who I am to people and with people. I am a guy you grew up with and not a Matthew, Christopher, Robert kind of guy. I guess I will grandfather in all the people who call me Patrick and allow it as I am sure I will grow affectionate of it as well, but I am thinking as I go forward I will be Pat again. It feels foreign to even say, but it was my original name and I want it back.

1 comment:

James B in L.A. said...

Standing Pat?

What about P.J. Connolly? (Okay, I had a dog named P.J. so I'm partial to it...) Patrice? Oh, well... Take it from a James that once was a Jamie, Jim, Jimmy... people will call you what they want.