My last name is derived from my ancestors’ “Kundig” which, in German, apparently means “knowledgeable, expert, well-informed.” (http://dictionary.reverso.net/german-english/Kundig) And I once paid one of those heraldry places that’ll look up your name in a database and print out its history in a Franktur font on a piece of paper that looks like parchment; with this authority, it declares that my last name is derived from “Gend” which is a short form of old Germanic names such as “Gandalf” which itself was derived from Old Norse “gandy” meaning magic.
It gets points for cool, but still I’ve never been much a fan of my last name. Words ending in “-ig” are difficult to enunciate properly. They fill one’s mouth with one’s tongue, and one’s throat with a sound that’s just beginning but hasn’t enough word left to go anywhere. And so I often become an “-ding” or a “-drick” or a “-dick” (thank you, high school mates) or even sometimes, inexplicably, a “Kennedy”.
I also don’t like to stand out from the crowd, but at the same time I need to; or maybe the other way around, that I want to but I feel I shouldn’t. It’s all part of what I believe are the two opposing forces of the human condition: the need to be part of a group, and the need to set oneself apart from the group. So I find the path of least resistance by going about my life without trying to draw attention to myself, but at the same time chafing against expectations of whatever role I’m supposed to fill.
So it always surprises me when I get noticed or remembered. A few days ago I was running an errand at lunchtime so I decided to pick up a burrito on the way home from a little cafe in the lobby of an office building nearby. They’re nice people who run the place, but I was not expecting to be so warmly welcomed when I arrived. “I was just thinking about you the other day, wondering how you’ve been! I haven’t seen you for a long time!” Probably not since the last time I was there almost a year ago, at least! They talked with me for probably ten minutes, all about how they’re doing and how their food truck is doing and how they wish they’d be invited back more often but the manager they’re working with is difficult so they’d always appreciate if more people requested them specifically. I promised to spread the word.
That evening I stopped by Wawa for a sandwich for dinner (Jill wasn’t home, so there wasn’t much point to cooking). The gentleman who pulled into the parking space beside me was a former coworker who’d moved on to Imagineering, and he saw the Netscape sticker on my car and wondered just how many people there could possibly be around here who would have that, and sure enough, it was me.