Under the Spell of a Name

A palm reader once told me I was going to marry a man named Andrew. I guess it could still happen, but I wouldn’t bet money on it. I have been married once and it wasn’t pretty. I have no plans to let it happen again, though if it does, odds are it won’t be to an Andrew. In the year of my birth, the most popular baby boy’s name was Michael; the second most common was David (my father’s first two names are Michael David). David stayed in the top five until 1987. At my school there were so many Davids, I almost felt as though “Dave” was another word for boy, just as “Sue” meant girl. At college, Daves remained plentiful. My immediate social group included three. To make things less confusing, I picked up the macho habit — common among my male friends — of referring to them by their last names: Bilton, Priestman and Finn. When Priestman and I became a couple, I was so used to calling him by his last name that I continued to do so for the two and a half years we were together, even when we were on our own. Names are like magic spells: They work on us unconsciously. Some seduce us with their loveliness; others are warning signs that say, “Watch out, here comes heartbreak.”