Seventy five years ago, on a dark and stormy Halloween night at about 3 AM, a baby was born. To the surprise of all, the baby was a boy. This was surprising because the mother and all her cousins and all her aunts and her grandparents had had only girls. Everyone in the extended family figured this newborn would be a girl also. The parents had even chosen a name – Sarah, commemorating one of the mother’s aunts who had recently passed on.
Imagine the confusion when little Sarah turned out to be, um someone else. The parents actually had two immediate worries. First was what to name this kid. But the second worry was more serious, and distracted them (at least that’s my theory) from the first concern. The baby was not well. A diagnosis of infant diarrhea was pronounced, which at the time was considered a serious illness with no known cause or cure. There was a high rate of infant mortality associated with this illness, and so the parents (especially the mother) were very upset. When they were pressed for a name, they quickly conferred. In order to continue to honor the noble departed Aunt Sarah, the name should start with an S. Well there are certainly plenty of S names for boys. Steven, Scott, Simon, Sam, Sherman, Sidney, Sal, Sean, Silas, Sebastian, Seth, Stanley, and so on.
“We’ll call him Seymour”, they decided.
So, baby Seymour survived his first week of life starting on that Halloween, and is still alive and kicking and writing silly blog posts 75 years later. And never, ever speaks that name out loud, and forbids anyone else to do so.
People (including my wives) have asked me why I hate my name. Some have told me that Sy is not much better. I disagree. I just checked the internet for boys’ names starting with S. In addition to those listed above, the list of 100 names includes such gems as Sultan, Shai, Savion, Stryker, Slade, Salem and Syncere.
You know what name is NOT listed? Yup, SEYMOUR. Why not? Because it’s a terrible name. Sometime after I was born, the name fell into disuse, and the last recorded boy named Seymour was born in 1956. (I read this somewhere, but don’t expect a reference).
The only popular reference to the name can be found in the lead character of the show and film A Little Shop of Horrors, and in the song “Suddenly Seymour” from that show. In other words, a joke inside a joke.
So, not only was I born on Halloween, (meaning everybody was out tricking or treating and couldn’t come to my birthday party) I had this joke of a name, and was born unhealthy. Does this post sound a tad grumpy? Well, see how you feel turning 75. Anyway, Happy Halloween.
Happy birthday Sy!
Many happy returns of the day, Sy! And is Seymour not a surname?
But then again, you Americans never cease to amaze me when it comes to names 😉
Happy 75 Sy. And by the way, the Lord’s still working on you, “until the day of Jesus Christ.”
By my teenage years I didn’t like “Arnold.” People often spoke it with an added flourish. It distinguished me. As I grew up, and more confident, Arnold grew on me. Never any confusion when someone asked for Arnold. So I like “Seymour” for the same reasons I like my name. Use it.
Thanks Arnold. My wife tells me the same thing. And I do use it in written form (on papers, and for banks etc, since it is my official name). I just hate the sound of it. I might try.
Did you also get a middle name? Was it also as terrible as Seymour?
As a matter of fact Dennis I did. Jay. I didnt mind that one, but I had trouble with it when I lived in Italy, since 2 of the 3 letters don’t exist in Italian, and it was pronounced as “YiiiY”.
Good cheer to you. And happy… whatever you prefer, Sy!