A Copt by any other name

Posted on March 19, 2007


Last night I had a dream wherein someone named St. Clair hit on me. That was his first name. Cairo pollution has finally penetrated through to my subconscious, having made short work of everything else. In fairness to the smog, though, there is a character called St. Clair in one of my favourite books. Bas bardo ya3nee, mish keda.

Worse is yet to come, however – said young man was actually one of those foreign-born Egyptians whose parents feel obligated to give an even more western name than is current among the homeland Copts. And on the topic of Coptic names: why would anyone call their child a name that:

  1. Will cause them playground beatings and difficulty in obtaining employment (see: Abanoub and Kirollos)
  2. Will be pronounced Beetar or Undaroo (incidentally my cousins’ names – but they actually do live in a place where people pronounce these words correctly)
  3. Connotes, comically, Nilotic gods and rulers of the ancient world (see: Ramses, Isis). I don’t actually mind Isis that much….we’ll see where I am residing if I ever throw out a female child and then see if it’s appropriate – it’s definitely not appropriate here, methinks. Here it sounds like you should be bearing a child with the head of an eagle, or that you are a brand of organic food.
  4. Is a bona fide nickname like Sandy or Timmy. The Twillet actually knows a Timmy. El bashmohandes Timmy; I kid you not! And he has a twin whose whole name is Jimmy. When I want to annoy her I ask her repeatedly if she’s sure that there isn’t a full name? Seriously, is that what it says on their birth certificates? She usually tells me to shut up and point out correctly that it isn’t their fault and that they’re better people than I am anyway and how come I think I’m so much better than other people? Then I zip it.

My sister and I’s namings appear to be two of the few occasions that my mother put her foot down successfully. It seems that she insisted that neither of us receive a name that stemmed in any way from the word “Mary”. I think she thought it was mundane and bee2a. Besides, almost everyone on both sides of our families has a secular name. However, I hadn’t realized I felt so strongly about those Melissas and Timothys I came across in Northern Parts till my brain made a very forceful point with St. Clair.

Anyway, so St. Clair gave me his number but I couldn’t decide whether to call him or not because he was really boyish looking (which I dislike) and was named St. Clair, which no one has any business being; but after all we were on vacation so why not while away the time?

Posted in: Copts, humour, my family