Friday, March 25, 2005

I Before E And Sometimes III: What's In A Name

I'm definitely one of those confused sorts when it comes to my name but I pretty much answer to anything. I was born Martin E Hennessy. My father was Martin Edwin Hennessy. To keep me from being a 'junior,' my mother decided to give me a letter for a middle name which changes it just enough to not be an exact match. But of course, I'd always be a 'junior' to the family. I would be called Marty because everyone called Dad that and of course 'junior' would follow often.

My father is probably one of the most amiable and personable people you will ever meet. Hence, he knows a lot of people through his profession and he is held in high respect in the community. Yet, the name 'Marty' became an albatross as well as a long shadow. When I entered High School, I decided to make my break from it. Everyone I was introduced to since then would only know me as Martin. It was exhilarating to feel like I had a personality and reputation of my own.

I would break away even more during this time with early BBS chat areas (around 1986) and develop different handles or screennames. This carried over into my passion for writing in which I took the name Varlet Graves (the early meaning behind which was being a mischievous servant of the graves). I would later throw the variant of Marten before Varlet Graves... which even later evolved into Marten Thomas Graves (M.T. Graves... just sounded spooky.) After I stopped my poetry and short story writing, I would just use the name Marten among friends (thinking there was less of a chance they'd try to shorten the spelling of that to Marty.)

While I had the pseudonym going for me in writing, I had to distinguish myself on paper also. For the longest time, I just wanted to change my name. A talk with my father's mother about our family history changed that slightly. My father was named after my grandfather's brother who had died as a child from lead poisoning. In my mind, that meant there weren't just two of us... I was a third but just not in the standard sense. So I opened my bank account (which I still have) as Martin E Hennessy III. That still exists on a lot of my paperwork which helped when I moved in with my father for several years. Mail was easier to separate and less weird bills wound up in his name or mine. But until recently, I have stopped using III on any paperwork other than bank statements.

It seems that it took several attempts at finding my own identity away from a name to find out that I was me all along and that my name is important to me. I still just go by Martin and will even smile when I see a Marten here or there. But seeing as I've used so many in some of my writing and site work, I figured that it would be good to clarify and finally get down in writing. I think I'm just one step happier in my own skin than I was back then.

8 comments:

Lily said...

Ah the mystery of the double Martin spelling in the newsletter revealed.

M.T. Graves = funny. There was a time delay in my brain getting the joke, even with the spooky comment. I'm such a dork. =)

Davydgrey said...

Yeah I hate the Junior thing also Mart, but I think the single letter thing for a middle name is cool.

LoraLoo said...

I'm going to have to retrain myself to not use "Marten". You don't really look like a Marty to me...and I agree, the single letter for a middle name is definitely cool.

An80sNut said...

I actually tell people that my family was so poor that they couldn't afford extra letters for my middle name. B) Yeah, I'm kinda happy that things worked out the way they did. Btw, no one needs retraining. I like my friends the way they are.

Teri said...

Wow that certainly cleared things up a bit. I also go by another name than what is written on my birth certificate only because people cannot pronounce my name right.

An80sNut said...

You do know that we need to know now.

Teri said...

ok here is the long story behind it... One day in 7th grade my best friend and I were talking about how all my teachers, no matter how many times I corrected them never pronounced my name right. So right there and then we decided to go by nick names instead, she went from Patty to Tricia and I went from Theresa to Teri. Living in LA people would pronounce my name the hispanic way saying ter-re-sah. My name comes from my German side of the family pronounced Ter-ray-sah.

An80sNut said...

Gonna have to file that one away for an opportune moment. B)