I was christened with a christian name, that when combined with my otherwise common surname, meant I shared a name with a famous person. Not your run-of-the-mill flash-in-the-pan celebrity, but a very very famous person. An icon. Someone whose visage graces posters in bedrooms everywhere. Someone whose fame is still as strong as it was nearly 50 years ago, when this person was still alive. Make no mistake, everyone I encounter has heard of this person.

This is quite an interesting situation. Sharing a name with a famous person has its fair share of ups and downs.

My name is rarely forgotten, if someone else knows both my christian name and surname. If I meet someone and they are only aware of my christian name, it isn't uncommon for them not to remember my name. But if they are aware of my surname, they never, ever forget my name.

This has the added effect of meaning I am rarely forgotten by people. Unfortunately, this is usually because of my name alone, and not anything about me personally.

I often end up answering the same questions over and over again. Is that really your name? Yes. Did you change your name? No. Were your parents fans (of the famous person)? No. Did your parents realise? No. Was it intentional? That I should have a famous name? Hell no. You must get comments on your name all the time. Ummm, yes.. You must be sick of getting comments on your name. You could say that.

Then you get the skeptics. My favourite was the bloke who responded to hearing my name with, "Yeah, and I'm Jimi Hendrix". Hilarious. Fortunately the smart-arse comments are rare and any doubters are silenced upon seeing my driver's license.

A trick I employ often is to use a contraction of my christian name. The extra second it takes for someone to click what my full name is, is enough for them to realise that commenting on it is most likely unnecessary small talk and probably a pretty stupid idea.

I like my name. Heaven knows what I'll do if I ever become famous in my own right though, especially if my namesake is trademarked. However, this is not keeping me awake at nights at this particular point in time.

Being in a similar situation, I feel for ElectricSound. I know all too well the pain of sharing a name with a famous person. But, there is a twist.

The person I am named after is only mildly famous, and isn't a contemporary figure, as with ElectricSound. No, I am named after an obscure patriot/hero of the American Revolution. My name is Nathan Hale (see the node if you don't know who he was).

Everytime I introduce myself, I too get a barage of questions that I am utterly fed up with.

You're name sounds familiar...do I know you from someplace?
Nope, Strike One.

Nathan Hale... Give me Liberty or give me death, right?
Ohh...swing and a miss, Strike Two. That was Patrick Henry. Nathan Hale was a spy in the American Revolution, who is famous for saying "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country" before he was executed.


Oh... I guess you get that a lot.
And its Out of the park! Holy Cow! Only... let's see... every time I meet someone!



Having the famous person with whom you share a name be somewhat obscure is in many ways worse. People vaguely remember the name from a history course that they took years ago, and need me to explain to them why they remember. This opens a whole new can of worms. At least in ElectricSound's case, everyone knows who he is named after (which leads to a totally different line of questioning).

But, I can't tell you how irritating it is to have people quote Patrick Henry when they hear my name. There must be some sort of uncertainty principle for famous names and quotes. At any given time, you can know either a famous person who said something, or what was said, but never both. (I suggest the Hale Uncertainty Principle.)

On the plus side, when asked to pick a historical figure for a history project, I have an easy choice.

Also, like ElectricSound, I like my name. It is fun being named after Nathan Hale. There's even a nuclear submarine called the USS Nathan Hale. I even have a hat and a shirt that say "USS Nathan Hale," like those navy guys wear. How neat is that? Plus, I have usually been well liked by social studies teachers, even before they know me. But still, it can get really annoying.

I really would prefer if the people who brought it up knew what they were talking about.

I have an interesting variation on this theme. I generally am known by my middle name, Tyler. However, on occasion, mainly when conducting official business with the government or a school, I have to reveal my first name. My first name is Stephen, which when combined with my middle name, is Stephen Tyler. Which, of course, is a spelling variation on Steven Tyler, the guy from Aerosmith.

Of course, when people find this out, I get the same litany of questions as ElectricSound. "Did your parents do that on purpose?", "Are they Aerosmith fans?", etc. In actuality, the truth is that my father's name is Stephen, and my mother just happened to like the name Tyler since she was a little girl.

The interesting part about this is that, since I generally don't use my first name unless necessary, many times I have friends, who have known me for quite a while, find this out for the first time. While it may be aggravating to have complete strangers do the 20 questions thing with you the first time you meet, it's infinitely more irritating to have it done by your friends.

Oh, and the reactions I get when I have to tell people that my street address is 1234 is another node entirely.

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