With apologies to my dear mother, I do not like my name. I had initially planned to change it in the context of the anonymity of a new life in France. Oh I had visions of wearing a lot of black and introducing myself as Veronique or Juliette, but I got so sidetracked with conjugating verbs and croissant gorging that I forgot. Alas I returned to Canada with the burden of Bobbi, a name fit for a pubescent pom-pom girl or a defenceman for the Boston Bruins. Now with the grey hair, well, it’s just plain ridiculous.
Anyway, we got to chatting about names at work one day and my brilliant, beautiful, always sweet but never sour, Chinese co-worker mentioned how her name came about. She has an enviable Canadian name (withheld to protect the innocent) and an interesting Chinese name: Big Bell. This was chosen because she howled like banshee as a newborn in the hospital nursery. Her older sister somehow wound up with the title Big Universe. Now that’s a handle I could handle. If I had a name like that I’d strut around with a sign on my back that said, “I’m Big Universe. Just deal with it.”
Big Bell then told us the story of her cousins, Big Flag and Big Phoenix. Now I don’t claim to know much about Chinese culture beyond seeking out the best joint for Dim Sum. I tried to imagine how this would play out in my own beloved Newfie culture. All I could think was that instead of a grand phoenix rising from the flames, I would’ve been christened something a little less majestic. Ever the jokester, I put forth a re-enactment of what my arrival to the world would have inspired—a shrieking, bandy legged creature rising from a pile of rotting fish guts: Big Buzzard.
Of course we all had a grand guffaw and I thought nothing more of it, that is until I couldn’t help but notice that the name was sticking. Christ all friggin’ mighty, be careful what you wish for. “Hey there, Big Buzzard, can you email me that report?” “Good morning, Big Buzzard, you know we have a team meeting at 10.” “So, BB, what’s shaking?” A text from a coworker, “Buzz, where are you?” or my personal favourite, a response to an email I sent to my boss telling him that I’d yet again forgotten my Blackberry…one simple phrase: “oh, buzzard.” Pretty soon it’ll be engraved on my office door and printed on my business cards. They just all better remember, it’s Dr. Big Buzzard, thank you very much.
Alors, there it is. Je ne suis pas Vivienne. Non, non. I am Big Buzzard. I’ve gone from cheerleader to mascot. And for once, a shrink cannot blame the mother. I have no one to blame but me and my big mouth, which I inherited from her, so really, it’s still all her fault. The tough old bird doesn’t fall far from the nest.