Banks are financial institutions. Serving a purpose in our economic infrastructure that involve withdrawals, deposits, loans, investment, and exchanges of currency. Yes, like just about everyone else, I hate them, too. Not going into specifics (cough…collusion, corruption, de-regulation, the list goes on cough), but because every so often they’ll remind me just how fragile my secrets really are.
Case in point, the checking account ad mailed to my house by said institution awhile back.
Just another money lending proposal everyone gets. Offered me a chance to “earn 20% cash back for shopping online.” A pain in the ass. Most, if not all, of them will go directly into the shredder. However, they used my first name in the address! ARGH! As I’ve mentioned, I don’t use it. Ever. Based on a suggestion from a co-worker, I employed a format change to my full name about three decades ago to avoid all this.
Instead of using First name, middle initial on anything official, I changed it to first initial, Middle name on just about everything. I converted all that pre-existed to the new arrangement (including this bank), and carried it forward to anything I’ve opened since. Furthermore, I began keeping the G name sub rosa. If friends found out about my initial, and guessed correctly what it stood for, I’d confirm it. But, I NEVER confess the name.
[wife: “Sounds picky.”]
“Why?”, you ask. History. As early as I can remember, I was always called by my middle name by family, and close friends thereof. Indeed, no one EVER used my given name, except those at school, or later, work. Owing that each of those had entrance forms that asked for and applied it. At first, I became comfortable with the dichotomy of having two names. It kept separate those close to me, and those who weren’t.
Eventually, it just became easier to settle on my middle name when interacting with everyone.
Of course, my soon-to-be spouse learned of it because of the marriage license, baptismal certificate, and record-keeping forms used to wed in this state for a church ceremony. But that’s besides the point. She married me anyway.
I wouldn’t discover the story behind my family’s dogged refusal to use G_____ for a good long time. That is, until right before I married my bride of now twenty-five years. It was readily known among the relatives that mom and her sisters came up with my personal name. The little spoken fact was that good ol’ dad handed me my birth name. No one addressed why it wasn’t used among them. Certainly, not to me.
So, in between our engagement (right after Thanksgiving ’88) and our wedding (late February ’89), I visited my old man before the New Year arrived to inform him. Breaking the nuptial news during one of his now frequent hospital visits. To his unmitigated surprise, too. His experience with marriage being a very poor one. To cover his shock when told, or perhaps to share it, he decided time had come to confess the following:
Dad: “You know, I’m the one who gave you your first name.”
Me: “Yeah, Pop. I know.”
Dad: “What you don’t know is that I named you after a favorite uncle of mine.”
Me: “Oh, really?”
Dad: “Yes, well… I wanted you to have his name.”
Dad: “The problem was, about 2 to 3 months after you were born, I discovered his name was really R_____.”
Me: “Huh, I… see.”
Suddenly, all was too obvious. The sole reason for mom’s side of the family, even his, never using that handle. I’d been honored with the name of a mis-remembered relative! A favorite, you say? Not bloody likely. Dad, as usual, had screwed it up royally. Either way, a built-in and unspoken incentive that it be kept closeted. That is, until it became news for my kids. Who picked up the mail one day and discovered what the damn initial stood for.
Thanks to the bank and my Pop, who shall remains nameless.