So when I was a child,
My mom always called me Lee. Even though I was named John, with the full name of John Lee Clemmer, she called me Lee. To this day I’m not clear on why. It doesn’t make sense to me. Her explanation is that John is a family name for us, but that because of that, there are quite a few Johns. So, to avoid confusion, she’d decided they’d call me Lee. “Lee is a nice name,” she said.
Well, that’s all well and good, until you have to put your “full name” on paperwork… over and over again… and again… for your entire life. And then be called “John” repeatedly, and having to correct whoever it is, saying “I go by Lee.”
Teachers. Doctors. Government employees. More teachers. Anywhere there’s a form that needs to line up with your “full name,” you have to deal with it. Circle the Lee in John Lee Clemmer, or underline it if it’s in a form field for “middle”, or circle it there. But of course that was back then. Now it’s online forms. Can’t circle it, or underline it. If I just put Lee for my first name then it doesn’t match what’s on my ID or credit cards or whatnot. Very few forms ask what name you go by.
Not a big deal, you say? You’re making something out of nothing, you say? Well, I feel I always liked John better. Just John. Look, names like Harry, Bobby, Sammy, (and yes, Johnny) with that long-e sound at the end are diminutives. That diminutive vowel sound. My name was not my first name, and furthermore it was just a consonant followed by that long-e diminutive vowel sound. Insecure and petty of me, you say?
I don’t think so. John is an objectively stronger name. Ends in a consonant. The “o” in John is a good vowel sound. Full. Kings are named John. Maybe not all-that-great kings that you’d want to be named after, but kings nonetheless. Apostles. Kings. Strength in beginning and ending with a consonant. Sure, it’s common. At least it was, for years, here in the U.S. Maybe not so much anymore. And I know there’s another Lee Clemmer out there, and even a few John Clemmer types nearby, but not so much with John Lee Clemmer.
What made John L Clemmer happen?
Well, fairly recently I had both a new job and lots of medical forms to fill out. I wrote “John” and John Lee Clemmer so many times, and got called John so many times, it just seemed time to switch. That, coupled with my writing made the change happen. I liked John L. Clemmer as my pen name, for the aforementioned reasons. Stronger name. Just using the middle initial keeps it just a bit shorter. That’s stronger too, I think, and follows a pattern you see these days.
I don’t make my immediate family and old friends from here in Atlanta call me John, though. Why would I do that to them? I’m not in charge of their minds and how they identify me in there…
So at work I started going by John, but some people knew me as Lee, especially here in Smyrna and in Atlanta. So, to make the change hopefully smoother, I guided people into calling me John Lee Clemmer. New introductions now it’s always John.
I don’t make my immediate family and old friends from here in Atlanta call me John, though. Or even John Lee. Why would I do that to them? I’m not in charge of their minds and how they identify me in there…
Check out the latest blog posts by author John L Clemmer here.
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