They call me David Hilarious Fontana. Hilarious — that’s my middle name.
Isn’t that such a weird phrase: “That’s my middle name.” We say it with big grins and a sort of humorous pride plastered on our faces. I think it’s supposed to make your skin kind of crawl, too. No, it’s definitely supposed to make your skin crawl. The phrase flashes nightmares of cheesy salesmen and politicians — if there’s even a difference — with the plastic faces, who say stuff like, “Honesty is my middle name!” Cue: eye-roll, fake-vomit and a door slamming in their faces.
Why all the fuss over a middle name? It’s not really good enough to be first, it wasn’t historic enough to be last, it’s just kind of thrown into the mix with a “better luck next year, kid.” Sometimes, I actually feel kind of bad for the middle name. Being the middle name is like growing up and thinking you’re ‘The Man’ only to one day realize that all of those medals on your wall are actually just “Participation Trophies,” and it suddenly dawns on you that you couldn’t even catch a baseball to save your life, let alone save the lives of 300 orphans. That’s sort of what middle names are — orphans. They’re the middle children of the name world. And yes, while middle children like to argue that they’re the best (because we are, cough cough… ), let’s face it, we’re not. “But you just said … ,” yes, I know what I said! But I was overcompensating for my small pencil. As the middle child I only ever got small pencils. We are the forgotten children. Speaking of which, what is my middle name anyway?
Confession time: my middle name is not, in fact, Hilarious. No dear readers that, unfortunately, was completely and totally a lie. I know you’re shocked. And I know that you’re thinking it must be “Sexy,” or “High-n-Mighty,” or even “Godly,” but no. Those names, while indeed all-fitting, are incorrect as well. My middle name is — lights up, sound the trumpets, drum-roll please — Bartholomew!
No, it’s really not. It’s Andrew.
Anti-climactic, I know.
At best, my middle name gets to show up on my diploma. Usually it’s just a single letter with a period after it — A. — filed away for all of eternity in the back of some large dusty drawer with a tarantula laying eggs in one corner, and what was once a piece of chewing gum but what has now turned into a huge, pale-green, pulsing organism in the other. Needless to say, as far as middle names go, their futures seem bleak.
This guy named Shakespeare (some old dude from history or something who liked dressing men up as girls) once posed this thought: “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Well duh, dude! Where have you been? If I called a rose “nincompoop,” of course it’s still going to smell the same! Sometimes I don’t know what they taught you people back in the olden days. The earth is flat? That gods control the weather? Unicorns don’t exist? Inconceivable!
But maybe there’s something behind this “Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe” question of Shakey’s. Maybe my boy Speare has a point. If I had a different middle name, would I be any different? Maybe not on the outside, but perhaps having a name like David Daring Fontana, or David Ostrich Fontana, well, it might make me think and act in an entirely different way.
Destiny’s Child didn’t give Super Bowl XLVII a blackout by singing, “Say my middle name, say my middle name,” but maybe they should have. Maybe Beyoncé should be renamed “Beyoncé Diva Blackout Giselle Knowles Carter.” Or maybe not. What role does destiny play in naming its poor, unsuspecting child? Do our names find us from the great beyond? Are our futures predetermined in simple initials like D.A.F. or is the name rather a self-fulfilling prophecy?
In the 1996 cult classic “The Crucible,” Daniel Day Lewis appears in a rather moving scene — perhaps “scene-in-which-he-only-yells” is more appropriate — in which he gives into the claims of his alleged witchery, Goody Lewis, if you will. But before he is hanged, he refuses to sign his confession for the court. He proclaims, “Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life!”
Or can he? I mean people change their names, even legally, all the time. Britney becomes Belva, Nick becomes Frasier, David becomes Dave (but don’t ever call me Dave). In a lot of cases, however, people are just deferring to their middle names. So maybe this funky middle fluff really does serve some purpose. Maybe it’s there as a backup plan, in case something really bad happens to your first name. So, if in the future some friend or acquaintance says, “Hey, I heard your kid Jessica may have gotten into some trouble with the police. Is it true?” You can politely let them know that “she goes by Barbara now.”
As for me, you can just call me, Fontana, David Fontana. But don’t forgot about the Andrew, if you’d be so kind.
David Fontana is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, and a weekly columnist for the Daily Free Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.