His name was Humphrey.
And I could not take him seriously. Humphrey was a brooding hero, dark and Byronic, with a sardonic quirk to his lips. He saved maidens, won their hearts, and broke them, all without ruffling a hair on his perfectly coiffed head.
But his name was Humphrey. I laughed every time I read the name. Humphrey.
Hummmppphrey. Internally, I pictured a Pooh bear sort of guy, chuckly and warm, a “tubby, little cubby all stuffed with fluff”.
A brooding hero? Try, a “willy, really silly old bear”.
The power of names, eh? Or the power (or stupidity) of parents…
To my (should be) shame, I am past master at sterotyping people according to their names, whether I know them or not. If I like you, my preconceived notion of your name might change…then again – maybe not.
Heather’s should be willowy and delicate, Agnes’s sensible and straight forward. Tony’s should be dark, suave, and Italian, while Brian’s should be blond and athletic. The stereotypes are endless.
I can almost feel the rising swells of anger and disbelief.
“Did she just disrespect my name? I think she did.”
I promise I did not. Unless you are named Humphrey, in which case, I am sorry, but I cannot take you seriously.
I have good news for you Humphrey’s. You can change the stereotype of your name, and here’s how.
Make your character such that it overshadows whatever stereotype your name might conjure in other people’s minds. Or add an “E”. Hey, it worked for Anne.
“Print out an “A” and a “N” and it looks positively dreadful. But if you’ll call me Anne with an “E”, I’ll try to resign myself to not being called Cordelia.” ~ Anne of Green Gables
That being said, please don’t name your child Humphrey.
Unless you want me to sing him the Pooh Bear song every time I see his chubby little form.
You have been forewarned.