What's With That Name?

I've always enjoyed names, etymological derivations, monikers, and even epithets. My own name, Sean Patrick Ocheese MacCath-Moran, is often a point of discussion with new acquaintances, and it often initiates discourse touching on these elements. To begin with, my name is over-long, often appearing to take up much more real estate than would seem appropriate. Moreover, being possessed of two middle names has long been a problem for me as most filing systems, be they paper or electronic, do not accommodate such deviant labeling conventions (more on this later). Many have reported that its disparate elements have the contradictory quality of appearing both familiar and foreign at the same time. Finally, my maiden name (I just love saying that!) is suspiciously similar to an insult. There's a lot to talk about here!

Sean Connery dot comBy and large, I think I'm in good company with the name 'Sean' (pronounced [shawn]). Who doesn't like Sean?! He's a good guy, fun at parties, quick with a joke - everyone's bud, that Sean fellow is, right? For myself, I am told that my first name originated from my mother's infatuation with Sean Connery. While Connery appears to lean a bit on the sexist side in the personal arena, he's a fine actor, not unpleasant to look at, and he is the quintessential secret-agent-man.

The first of my middle names was selected via a somewhat systematic scheme employed by my bio-dad's side of the family. In their traditions, the first born male of each successive generation alternates between having "Patrick" assigned as either the first or middle name. As might be guessed, my father's name is Patrick.
As symmetry would have it, the second of my middle names originates from the traditions of my bio-mom's family. From her I inherited a relationship to Osceola [áw say ôlä] , my great-great-great-great-grandfather and a prominent figure in Seminole Indian and U.S. history. As I understand the story, my great grandmother "Bertie" detested the white-man and refused to place her half-white daughter, Patricia, on the government's rolls. This caused some interesting problems for my grandmother as the government had trouble accepting that she had ever been born. Apparently the fact of her physical presence was not sufficient to prove her existence.

OsceolaRegardless of the political legitimacy of my birthright, my mother and grandmother upheld the spiritual and cultural traditions of our Seminole heritage. According to these customs, a mother will have a dream foretelling the nature of her child and informing her of the name to be selected. During her pregnancy, she dreamed that I was either walking through a forest or leading a group of people through a forest. From this she selected the name Ocheese, meaning "of the people". To clarify, this is pronounced [o-chess-say], not [o-cheez], [owch-jeez], or [The Cheese-Meister].

Moran Family TartanAs per the custom of most Western cultures, I inherited the Moran surname paternally, and this had served me well right up to the point at which I married my love, Cealláigh. Neither of us are caught up in the tropes and traditions of society, so the question of whose surname to take after marriage became a vexing issue - due in large part to the fact that neither of us felt passionately about the matter one way or the other. After several philosophical discussions on the topic, we came to grips with two truths. First, feeling that it had not yet achieved its full growth potential, this was just the opportunity my name had been waiting for to help it reach its grandiose ambitions. Second, choosing just one of our surnames and rejecting the other didn't seem fair. They had each toiled their lives away in our service and under our protection, and neither really possessed the survival skills necessary to survive on their own in this hard, cruel world of ours. Therefore, we decided to hyphenate rather than eliminate, making me the MacCath-Moran I am today. Now, while we aren't necessarily planning on having children (unless we adopt?), this does beg the question of what the next generation should do if they were to get married themselves. Do you suppose this world can handle an Alicia Cealláigh Donarotha MacCath-Moran-Warkasowski?

Stop SpamOf course, I tend to employ various combinations of my names and their initials rather than write the whole thing out, but this practice introduces a whole assortment of new issues. For example, more than one individual has decided that no one would ever have two middle names, that those two odd little periods must an error (i.e. deciding it must be "Sean Po MacCath-Moran"), so they proceed to confidently read the name as [poh]. But it seems that all of my names are subject to misrepresentations. Sean becomes [shee-ann], Ocheese is always brutalized, MacCath gains and loses letters on a whim (e.g. [mog gath] or [mac craft]), and if Moran doesn't become Morgan then some folks will decide that the 'a' looks a little too much another 'o' (I'll leave you to sound that one out on your own). And there's no escape for me by switching to initials only: S.P.O.M. appears to be the acronym for some strange secret government agency (Secretly Personable Oligarchy Musketeers?) or it sounds a bit too much like a new generic spam look-alike product.

Interestingly enough, it is the adoption of my marriage surname that has brought me the most grief. It seems that I am not allowed (in the thinking of many) to change my paternal name for the sake of marriage. Many feel that I, as a healthy male of my species, should not be allowed the distinct and honorable privilege of possessing a maiden name. Am I less worthy than anyone else to be considered as having once been in an "original, unused, untouched, or unexplored condition"?