Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What’s in a Name?

Barbara – from the Greek word barbaros meaning “foreign” or “strange.”

My father wanted me to be sensibly named after the “sensible” people in the family. Jane or Peggy would have suited him just fine. My mother, however, wanted to name me after her wild and crazy sister. Throughout my gestation, my parents squabbled over this – a lot. Then somewhere between the first labor contraction and delivery, my dad caved.
Because “sensible” can be boring.
And when I was a baby, all indicators suggested that I was frightfully sensible. Goodness knows how easily I could have tottered into boring territory, had I been dubbed another’s namesake.
My Aunt Barbara was NEVER boring.
She was a cool Jersey girl long before it was cool to be “Joysey.”
In fact, she once owned a record shop in Freehold – yeah, the hometown that “The Boss” was Born to Run from.
And she was the kind of aunt who would show up for a visit unannounced…


Everybody needs an aunt like that.

When other family members were teaching me ditties like Three Blind Mice and A Tisket a Tasket
Aunt Barbara was teaching me all the words to Maxwell’s Silver Hammer. You know, that lovely Beatles tune about Mr. Edison and his murdering mallet.
After my “lesson” we rode all around town singing it at the top of our lungs –
top-down in her Grand Prix convertible.
It’s a good bet that that was one of the moments my dad wished he’d held out for the doubly sensible “Peggy Jane.”
When I was a teen, Aunt Barbara taught me how to forge her name…
Then she gave me her credit card AND the keys to her car so that I could spend the day at Six Flags Great Adventure with friends.
Yep, she was “foreign” all right – in an out of this world kind of way. And she was “strangely” wonderful.
She stayed up the latest.
She laughed the loudest…
and the longest.
As some would say, she was a character.
And isn’t that the BEST kind of aunt a writer could ever wish for?

PROMPT: Are you named after anyone special? What does your name mean? Were there any “characters” in your family? Come on, admit it – you know there were.
It’s all material, Cupcake.


  1. What a great tribute to Aunt Barbara! Now I'll start on that "character" list starting with myself.

    1. Well, if you're first then I hope I'm #2 on the "character" list. I have some big shoes to fill!

  2. My Aunt Barbara was nothing like yours. But I have an Aunt Bev who I've only seen twice and who my family made sure I never spent any time with.

    1. Hmmmm... It sounds like Aunt Bev could be novel-worthy. ;-)

  3. Yay for Aunt Barbara! (And what a cute pic!)

    Yes, my family is full of characters! Too many to name. You're right about the material. Hmmm.... ;)