Monday, May 9, 2011

What's in a Name?

When I decided to name my blog Fornography, I was dimly aware of the provocative nature of the title, but I thought it was catchy, so I decided to go with it anyway. It had some innocent word play on my last name that expressed the intent of my blog - to write and become a part of the blogosphere.

Since adolescence, my friends have been goofing on my last name. It takes very little verbal imagination to discover what some of the various corruptions of it could be, so I became desensitized and indifferent to their ribbing. All too often, it was easier to go along, to get along, so I never made an issue of it.

Maybe that is why I have never been fond of nicknames, but something unexpected and quite marvelous happened to me as a teacher some years ago. One of my surfer students gave me the handle, Forndawg. At first, I rejected it, thinking it was too informal, but after hearing students yelling it across campus, I reluctantly accepted it as a sobriquet. Inwardly, I liked it.

Then a student, who is now a music professor, secretly kept a running catalogue for a whole year of things I would say in class. John wrote down the cliches I had used, the famous quotations I had tossed out in lectures, and the expressions I would use from my youth, like, "A person all wrapped up in himself makes a small package" or "I'll catch you in the funny papers."

He wrote down anything that I said which he deemed interesting; I thought he was taking great class notes, but his grades did not support that assumption. At the end of the school year, John gave me a notebook full of my expressions with a cover sheet entitled Fornology. His efforts earned him a B minus for the semester, over the C plus he would have received otherwise. Needless to say, I found his notebook quite amusing.

When it came to naming my blog last week, it wasn't much of a stretch for me to come up with Fornography. Catchy title, I thought. Then, my wife saw it....

End of part one.