Since childhood, I’ve always had friends named something different — Christina, Patty, Mike, Denise, Aaron, Felicia, Rafik, Jeri, René, Martin, Debbie, Doug, etc. It’s even more diverse now with friends worldwide. If there’s anyone with the same name, I’m usually part of that guilty party and often wish my name was something more unique like Kira or Cory.
To remedy two girls calling out, “here” when school attendance was taken by the teacher, the first initial of our last name was usually attached.
That method would not work here.
A rose by any other name
Adding to the fact my life is dominated by 15 Nikos, 14 Yannis, 10 Katerinas, 10 Kostas, 10 Christos, 10 Giorgos, 5 Angelas and 5 Vangelis, the first initial of their family names are the same in nearly 70 percent of cases if they don’t already have identical family names (surnames).
Specifying their profession used to be a good way of narrowing the field, but now the majority of Nikos I’ve collected over time are programmers and half of the Kostas work in clubs. In the case of women, naming their husband is usually not helpful because many of couples we know have the same name pairings.
My fiancé knows about 15 Dimitris, so unless he specifies which one it is from the start, I’ve got to guess. It’s like “Name that Tune,” a TV gameshow that ran in America between 1953-1985 where contestants had to guess the name of a song in a few notes. Except for me, it’s “Name that Dimitri” and there is no $100,000 prize — the one who works at the airport? the one who rides the scooter? the one who got married in June? the one who owns the store in Vari? the loud one? the one with the guitar shop? The faster I guess correctly, the faster the conversation can continue.
I realize we could simply refer to these men by their family names, but since we accumulated these Dimitris over years and months, we’ve never used their family names and in some cases don’t even know what they are. And it’s not foolproof since their surnames are sometimes identical (e.g. Cousins from the same family).
Also, some people wrongly assume that because I’m foreign, I am unable to say names like Christodoulopoulou so my friends and I only know each other by our first names. But pronouncing Greek family names has been less challenging since Patty became my best friend at the age of 5. Her family name was Apostolopoulos, a name seldom pronounced correctly by professors and one that fit on none of the SAT or scantron tests we took.
No matter, playing the game is kind of fun.
Photos from skylardesign.com and wikipedia