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Any Other Name Would Do

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Shirley hated his name. It was an odd name--not John or Gilbert or any
decent sort of name. And they still named him Shirley! Shirley finally
couldn't stand it any longer. He must have a talk with father over being
named Shirley.

"Of all the names--why Shirley?!" asked Shirley passionately. He was a
boy--a man!--after all!!! Not the wonderkind that Jem was-or the poet that
Walter was--but he was still...

"Shirley is a nice way of honoring your heritage. You should be proud to
have it." Father gravely answered. Gilbert could see no reason why Shirley
should complain about being named Shirley.

"We aren't the Drews, after all." Gilbert reminded his son.

Shirley thought silently, "well, I might as well be one with a name like
Shirley." He left Father and went to Mother. Mother would understand.

"Mother, why the name Shirley? Why not Gilbert or John instead as my name?"
Shirley asked gently.

Mother replied with a smile, "because Gilbert and John are names that don't
belong to you. You wouldn't be our Shirley if you were called any other

"Well, when I have a child, maybe I'll name him Blythe!" Shirley exclaimed
indignantly. Mother who insisted on spelling her name with an e--and who
once wanted to be called Cordelia didn't understand! Well,---

Mother was trying to smother a laugh. Shirley perked up and made one last
comment before heading away. "Blythe Blythe is funny to you. Well, why
isn't---" but Shirley stopped. Mother was a Shirley even if he didn't like
being named Shirley.

Shirley didn't dare go to Susan. Shirley had known since he was born that
Susan thought him perfect. Well, likely she too has something to do with the
naming of him Shirley. He knew it was Susan who had convinced everybody that
he was (and he was) her "little brown boy." Shirley pushed the thought away.
Being referred to as little was even worse than being called Shirley.

Susan had actually objected to Shirley's being called Shirley. But Dr. and
Mrs. Dr. Dear were such stubborn people.

"It isn't a decent name for a boy," she had protested.

"Susan, we aren't the Drews, and we aren't naming him something like Bertie
Shakespeare." Anne argued. Besides, Shirley was her family name.

"William Shakespeare wouldn't be William Shakespeare if he had been called
Billy Shakespeare. And Shirley wouldn't be our son if we called him anything
else," said Gilbert rushing to Anne's defense. Susan had been so good to
Anne and him by taking care of Shirley these past few months while Anne
recovered--and now Susan wouldn't quit this nonsense over Shirley's name.

Susan eventually gave up. She eventually came to love that Shirley was
called Shirley. Well, the Dr. and Mrs. Dr. Dear knew their stuff when they
chose that perfect name for the most perfect boy--the most perfect
child--Susan had ever known.

At school, none of the boys made fun of Shirley. However, Shirley
was---forgotten. Well, who would want to associate with someone named
Shirley?! Shirley had yet to figure out that it was his quiet
personality--and not his name--that made the other boys forget about his

Shirley saw Una. He let out his troubles and miseries over being called a
name like Shirley. Una was a few years older than he, and Shirley didn't
know Una that well, but maybe she would understand. Una seemed to understand
and sympathize with him. After he finished his rant, she said, "I know a
little of what you feel like. Nobody can pronounce my name. I hear You-na,
Ooh-na, Un-na, and even Un-NAY. Considering it is only 3 letters, no one is
satisfied on how to pronounce it." Una knew that their weren't that many
pronouciations of Una, but she was trying to make Shirley feel better.

"Well, Shirley is easy to pronounce--thank goodness for that!" Shirley
exclaimed gratefully. But it was still Shirley for all that.

Una continued on. "Still, I am glad I am named Una and not Ilse. It has got
even more tongues tied than my name. I'll, Ill-see, Il-sa, Il-za, I'll-see,
I'll-sa, El-see, El-sa, Ells-a and I am sure many more pronouciations." Una
breathed a sigh of relief. Thank goodness Ilse wasn't her name. She then
looked at Shirley. Her tactics seemed to be working. Shirley seemed to be
coming around and feeling better about his name. And, Una privately thought,
if she ever had a little boy, Shirley would be a good name to name him. But
she didn't tell Shirley that, who was looking rather awed.

"Something with only 3 or 4 letters shouldn't be so hard to pronounce."
Shirley was in shock as he uttered the words. It was just a complete eye opener to
him that Una and Ilse could have so many pronouciations.

"Un-na!" "OOOH-na!" "You-NA!" Una's friends were calling for her. School was
finished and Shirley needed to get home and get his thoughts together. And
Una was talking to her friends.

Shirley reflected that he was glad he wasn't name Una or Ilse. Life had to
be so hard with names like. But, Shirley thought triumphantly, "it is still
not as bad as being called Shirley!"

When Shirley got home, he stopped and looked at Gilbert and Anne and Susan.
Before they could even utter hi, he made a beeline to his room.

When Shirley reached his room, he grabbed a piece of paper and penned a
promise to himself.

"I, Shirley, will never name my child Una, Ilse, or Shirley, whether it be a
boy or girl. I shall give the child an easy name to pronounce."

Shirley posted noted his promise with "and I shall not give any boy the name
of Shirley."