Thursday, July 17, 2014

Minding my Ps and social cues

For most of my life, I've gone by Ian McGibboney, save for brief phases when I introduced myself as Ian Paul McGibboney. For most of my life, I listed my initials as IPM, whether or not I was in a Paul phase (though now I stick mostly to IM, despite the inevitable questions of if my middle name is Bill).

But I have never, ever gone by Ian P. McGibboney. 

Paul is an awesome name. But P is a goofy initial. Try not saying it like Rosco P. Coltrane.

"Ian PEEE McGibboney!"


Also, Ian McGibboney is poetry. As is Ian Paul McGibboney. (My high school friends often sang both versions.) Ian P. McGibboney, on the other hand, is two lines of verse separated by a speed bump.

Nope again.

And it's not as if I have to differentiate myself from all the other people with my name, like others do. "Oh, Ian P! I thought you meant Ian J."

Nope a third time.

Then there's the OCD aspect. P and Paul have equal numbers of syllables (one). By abbreviating Paul, I save no time or breath, and I'm axing exactly three letters from my name, further throwing off what is already a significant letter-count imbalance. If I'm going to write my name out, why not write out the whole thing? I'm so close anyway. Ian P. McGibboney. It's like an itch that can't quite be scratched.

Strike four.

Finally — and the NYT article talks about this — middle initials can be pretentious. Not always (there are practical applications after all), but sometimes. It's no accident that they're favored in settings where being esteemed counts more than being approachable. That works for some people, but as far as I'm concerned, everyone can call me Ian — friends, family, colleagues, strangers, mortal enemies, whoever. Maybe it's the millennial in me, but egalitarianism sounds pretty good.

You either respect me or you don't. No amount of P will change that.


Robin said...

As a married woman who took my husband's last name, I use the first letter of my maiden name as my middle initial. It's a partial identifier. On another WEIRD is it that we women ever even drop our maiden names? If I married all over again, I'd keep my maiden name...

Ian McGibboney said...

Oh yeah, I guess I hadn't thought of that. But I have wondered about maiden names lots of times. It is weird...