Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I'm not the man you thought I was

I recently discovered that some of you have come here looking for an entirely different Derek Gentry.

So, just to clarify: I'm not him. I'm me.

I can certainly understand the confusion. In addition to having the same name, this other Derek Gentry and I are roughly the same age, and we both work in IT. The difference between us, it seems, is that he has been accused of defrauding a scented candle company out of $800,000, whereas I...well, my rigorous TV-watching schedule just doesn't allow for projects that ambitious.

I will admit, however, that after visiting the alleged candle company's website, I sorta wanted to bring them down too. I can't really explain or justify this impulse…I guess it’s just a Derek Gentry thing.

According to HowManyOfMe.com, there are thirty-one Derek Gentrys in the US, something that I was blissfully unaware of until recently. But now whenever I come across one of us, I wonder, Is he a better Derek Gentry than I am? Has he more fully realized his Derek Gentry potential than I have? My conclusion: Probably. I’ve always suspected that somebody else could do a better job of being me.

I also wonder: Would I have become a different person if I'd been given a different name? I think I would. A judge in New Zealand actually made a 9-year-old girl a ward of the court because her parents had named her Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii, saying that the name "makes a fool of the child and sets her up with a social disability and handicap." I agree, and also I think the same could be said of the other names mentioned in the article, like "Number 16 Bus Shelter." How could you not be affected by growing up with a name like that?

Derek Gentry has been pretty good to me though. It did not lend itself to playground taunting, which is an important test of any name. As a kid, I sometimes wished that I was named “Steve,” but that was only because I also wanted to be The Six Million Dollar Man. At other times, I wished that Derek shortened to something, or that I had a nickname, but I've gotten over that.

I now work at a company where nicknaming is rampant, but unfortunately, these nicknames are often based on your initials. As a result, I get called DAG, DAGman, DAGmar, and DAGnabbit. None of these is exactly music to my ears, but the best one by far is "DAGmaster," which blossoms into "DAGmastah" when pronounced with the propah Massachusetts accent. If I ever pull a Joaquin Phoenix and drop IT for hip-hop, I will adopt the name DagMastah Flash.

Until then, you can just call me Derek. If it's even me you're looking for.