It's Sad That My Name Is Confusing

June 14, 2019

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To my knowledge, I am the only Asian Derek Fisher in the world. Facebook research shows that the vast majority of DFs are white, but there are also some black DFs, the most famous one being a former LA Laker and now coach of the LA Sparks. You want to disappoint a lot of people? Go to dinner in LA with the name Derek Fisher and see the confusion when I walk in the door. Which reminds me that I totally forgot to do my planned April Fools joke this year, dammit! I was planning on sending an email to the traditionally black college here in Tyler, called Texas College. I was going to offer to volunteer and come in and talk to the basketball team. I still laugh about what the look on everyone's faces would be when I walked into the room. Oh well, there's always next year.

 

I like my name. I used to be annoyed by it. People would consistently mess it up. Derrick, Derick, Asshole, Derek, Deric, Derrek are all versions of spelling that I have encountered in my life. Fisher also frequently gets turned into Fischer, which means that there is a very high probability that my entire name won't be correctly spelled. I asked my mom why my name was picked, and she said that she just really liked that name. I guess I should feel really fortunate, because another name that she really liked was Barbra, so thankfully my name isn't Barbra Fisher. My middle name is Scott, and if memory serves me correctly, I was named after a favourite uncle of hers. All in all, it's a pretty generic name that I'm now very ok with.

 

When people would get close to me, they would invariable ask me what my "real name" is. It was the dreaded stage where someone gets comfortable enough to ask. I used to be very resistant to answering that question, because my "real name" is DEREK SCOTT FISHER. Then they would get frustrated and clarify what my birth name was. I would then reply that it was "Nunya". Of course the follow up question to that was, "Well, what was your last name?", to which I would respond "Fuckingbusiness". I didn't like divulging my birth name because I didn't feel like getting made fun of about it. And, most importantly, why does it matter? Does knowing my birth name change anything? Will it provide hidden details about my character or personality? Of course not. People just want to be able to provide the "accurate" label to what doesn't make sense. And I found out the hard way that Oh Man Sik is a great way to get a nickname of "Sicko".

 

Fellow adoptees will surely relate to this, but an amusing moment for me is sitting in a waiting room. When my name gets called and I stand up, frequently there will be a look of confusion from at least one of the other people in the room. I remember being the only person in a waiting room once, and the lady stepped out, looked around, and then in a very loud voice called my name. When I stood up, I think her inner circuits might have exploded, because she looked at her chart again, to make sure she called the right name. And then I got a dirty look like I was the one to blame for causing her confusion. Things got really awkward when I found out I was in the wrong room and it was a gynecologist's office. But I got a really cool speculum out of the experience, so totally worth it.

 

Many people just don't know how to react to our names. For those of you who do not have names that are "incongruent" with expectations, it's hard to explain the feeling of invalidation of our very own identity. It's happened so many times throughout my lifetime that I'm somewhat immune to it, as I am sure most other adoptees are as well. But just because we're used to something doesn't make it ok to experience. I am 100% positive for those that do not experience this, your reaction to someone giving you a puzzled look just from having your name spoken would be very uncomfortable for you. 

 

I feel a little guilty talking about this, because we have so many other issues that are more problematic in the world than people not reacting well to our names. But, this one is so easy to fix! Just stop assuming, fuckers! Or, better yet, maybe I'll just look puzzled and ask dumb questions to everyone I meet. It would go something like this:

 

White guy: "Hi, my name is Mark Wilson."

Me: "Really?"

White guy: "Ummmm, yeah..."

Me: "How did you get that name?"

White guy: "Seriously?"

Me: "Yeah, you don't look like a Mark Wilson."

White guy: "You need help, dude."

Me: "Well, you need a more congruent name."

 

Doesn't sound that much fun, does it?

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