|My ditz survival pack...the essentials.|
While joking with a good friend at the Sorbonne about what we’d name our babies (both parties aware of the joke), I told her I’d name our son Bob. I like this name in French and I thought it would be a funny (note: these are the things Sorbonne students do before class).
She, French, and aghast, said, “No way. We’re not having an American name for our child.” I asked what the problem was with an American name like Bob, or worse, Bryan. I then learned something that I had not known about my name and others like it. Certain American names for boys, according to this girl and other students, are the equivalent of names like Candy and Buffy in the US.
Essentially, to the French, Bryan is not only in the kitchen, but he’s a total ditz.
I argued against this, saying I never felt prejudice because of my name, but she assured me that when French people see my name, they don’t expect much from me. The fact that I was at the Sorbonne helped this enormously, giving me some sort of intellectual boost, so I avoided some of the sting.
But now I wonder if many of my happy interactions in Paris are simply due to the fact that the French feel bad for poor airheaded Bryan. Could it be?
I quickly considered dressing more smartly or perhaps investing in glasses. Maybe get rid of the Chucks and start combing my hair. I didn’t want to give the French any reason to believe I was anything less than a bona fide genius.
But then my future wife-not-to-be continued to tell me that Kevin was also another name associated with ditzy boys, though another friend had previously told me that Kevin was also a name associated with gangsters. I started to lose faith in her, wondering who the real ditz was. Maybe she was playing a fast one on me, but either way I am slightly more aware of avoiding ditzy tenancies these days and I’m still considering those glasses…