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What's In A Name?

The faults and fun of name association: Opie, Dudley and......?

Opie Peavy was running for Sheriff.

For me, his name conjured visions of a Southern Mayberry RFD type of town and
Boss Hog type of law enforcement individual.

How seriously would I take a figure of authority with a name like "Opie Peavy?"

That name could almost instantly paint a picture of an individual, a geographic
area and make me wonder if I would laughingly hit the gas and make a run for it
if he happened to pull me over.....In truth, the Peavys ARE a Southern family
and Opie follows in the footsteps of other effective Peavy law enforcement
officials. With my roots in that same small town, I just managed to escape the
creative labeling my ancestors were known for.

My great-grandmother, Miss Pat, was Cleopatra Bryan. In the late 1890's, it had to be somewhat shocking for her daughters to be named after men Miss Pat had known. Emmett, Carey, James, Blanche Jordan were my great-aunts and grandmother.

My name fate could have been worse had my mother followed Southern Two-Tag Tradition like the Thompson family that lived up the dirt road from our family farm. Minnie Bell, Lottie May, Annie Pearl, Maggie Lee, and Ruby Virginia were childhood playmates of my mom and Sainted Southern Aunties. The Thompson boy, Hoover, didn't fare much better with his single name signature, however.

Within seconds of an introduction, Name Associations can create personalities and
opinions of the person just met.

For instance:

"V" names remind me of royalty—Vanessa, Victoria, Vance, Victor and
Valerie.

"I" names make me think of pale, humorless characters in black and
white “B” movies—Igor and Ivana.

"G" names sound strong–Grant, Garret, Gertrude.

Well, maybe not Gertrude....

Some names make me wonder if a child was well-liked by his parents—Ursula, Dudley and Angus for example. I tend to categorize those as the "proud, family traditional name" that had to be carried on. It is nearly impossible to avoid the split-second flash of associations that spring to mind when first meeting someone and learning their name. I've recognized my limitations in that regard and tried to overcome possible negative connotations when catching myself filling in the subconscious blank of, "That name reminds me of: "pole dancer", "biker chick", "wimp", "Bad Break up Boyfriend".....

Then, there is my friend named Akayaa.

I met Akayaa in San Luis Obispo, California when she was "Frankie." Using the shortened nickname her husband gave her, "Frankie" was really "Francesca." Missionaries had visited her Ghanian village of Gowrie in Bolgatanga/upper East Region when she was 11 or 12 and she liked the sound of Francesca.

I first met Frankie through the sound of her laugh and the wonderful fragrances of African cooking that wafted over the common fence we shared separating our townhouses. She was a powerhouse of energy; traveling locally with a troupe of dancers and drummers she'd trained, presenting her culture to schools and other groups through African dance.

We became fast friends when her marriage ended and she faced being a single mother to two teens in a country that was not her own. Her story is amazing with its twists and turns, touched by Hollywood, hard work and heartache. It’s a story for another writing.

At some point, Frankie took back her birth name, Akayaa. I remember thinking its meaning was absolutely perfect for her when I asked one day what it meant. "Been Brave" she told me. Akayaa IS brave—every day.

The name she calls me is the one I treasure. Akayaa calls me "Abuyaah."

It’s the best name of all—it means "friend."



You can see my friend and hear her music at www.bolgamusic.com



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