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As a very young boy I was given the name “Little Craig” to distinguish me from the other “Craig” that lived across the street. Since he was two years older he was accurately called “Big Craig”. At such an early stage in life it was fitting; however, a couple of years later “Big Craig” the

son of a horse racing jockey seemed to have the name I should have had. I hated being called “Little Craig” as I towered over “Big” Craig… Thank God he moved to “The Little Apple” when I was in Third Grade.

In Junior High and High School my buds and I would spend every weekend or break we could patroling a teenage wasteland. We scrounged the local beach communities surfing and losing brain cells while living off gathered Coke bottles and 25 cent burritos at Taco Bell. I’m pretty fair of skin. I fried myself in the Southern California Sun and was named by a couple of my “good” friends “Tomato”… for obvious reasons.

I hated that name. It always felt like a put down on a physical attribute I couldn’t change.

In seminary I wanted the name “Doctor All-Wise-Theologian-Life-Changing-Verse-by-Verse-Bible Expositor”. Sometimes we never get the name we desired and later we’re glad that’s the case.

Presently my corner of the world includes a “Goose”; “Senator” (a spiffy and sagely legal negotiator); and a “Rose” (a name God gave a woman in our community.  There’s “Little Buster” (a name bestowed upon Morgan by “Big Buster”), I know a great cook some refer to as “Stewie” (a reference to Martha Stewart whom they say she cooks like).There’s a couple of “Ass Clowns”… so named in an online post by a critic. Ahhh… I almost forgot “Stink Eye” (I probably shouldn’t tell that story here!) There’s Kurt who’s been going by Pablo for 27 years (he flunked Spanish in 8th grade), “Jimbo” (His name is Jim… he battles with his weight and is also referred to as “Jumbo" by some).

While in college I worked at a kids camp named “Indian Village” for a summer. The Staff each had an “Indian” name. I was “Smoking Buffalo” (because of clouds of buffalo colored emissions the food delivery truck I drove spewed).  A young Gal I worked closely with had not yet been tagged with a name…. so one day she asked a group of 6th grade boys what her Indian name should be, they huddled, looked at her, huddled again an began laughing; breaking from the circle they bestowed upon her the name that stuck all summer… and ever since, “Moose Lips” (38 years later she’s a well adjusted grandmother who'll turn her head in a crowded mall to someone yelling out "Hey Moose Lips!"). I consider as friends a “Poet” putting heart and beauty into words in Oregon, a “Sasquatch” who’s changing lives in Pennsylvania, a “Prophet-Sage” from Palo “Alto and... when it comes to names, my personal favorite is a rat-sized mangy haired terrier mutt with bug eyes, a smoker’s bark and bluff charge named “Killer”. 

Everyone has been given a name or two. Some fit, some don’t; some names we bear are desired others embarrassing… sometimes crippling. Often our names become the script of our life. What names have you been given?

When my first grand daughter was born the family counseled together to inquire about the name I wanted to go by as her grandfather. I decided I’d go by the name “Captain”, and so it was settled, Jacqueline Ruby would be the first of a quiver full of grandchildren to love, honor and respect me with the name “Captain”.

There are names we desire and there are the names we’re given.

My habit around Jacqueline Ruby was to surprise her by popping out from around a corner or from behind a couch with an engaging fatherly “Ah… Boo!” She’d laugh and with smiling eyes beg me to do it again and again. So, the story goes that while my forever and wonderful first born daughter is wiping the Gerber’s Mixed Vegetables and Chicken Liver food off Jacqueline’s chin as she sits in her High Chair, Jac points to my picture prominently centered on the fridge door and declares “Aboo!!”

Captain” may be the name someone else goes by but in the McConnell Clan I’m thrilled to be known as, and respond to “Aboo”. 

Now, let me add, though others make the connection, Jac had no knowledge of the character from Disney’s Jungle Book named “Aboo” who was a thin haired middle aged warrior-monkey with droopy eyes, odd sense of humor with a smoker’s laugh and a bluff charge also known as “Craig”. 

God too has a name for us. What do you go by?

- Craig McConnell

 

 

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