“Write a blog in which you tell us something, anything, about either your given names or your blog name(s).”-Melinda
This is a story I wrote about my name. It’s is based on a true story mixed with a bit of, “I Wish.” Hopefully you will enjoy my story.
I’ve always hated my name. Well I guess I shouldn’t say hate, but in a family full of Anthony Nathan’s, Bryan Keith’s and Robert Earl’s, I was always puzzled why my parents would choose to name me something as absurd and ridiculous as Mynheer Noir Jesus Carpenter. I mean seriously, what the hell is up with that. For years I felt my parents had decided to punish me before I was born and my name was my eternal burden to carry for their stupidity. Or it could have been my father was just really high when he decided to name me; which is highly probable considering his record for recreational activities, as well as his flair for the ridiculous. I had never considered any type of connection to my nationality. Growing up in a small country town outside of New York City, most people considered themselves either white or black and up until this point I had never saw myself as anything other than African American. Granted my Grand Mother was an American-Indian, however her Grand Father was a runaway slave who ended up settling with a tribe of Cherokees. So still I considered myself African American. Either way I was giving the undeniable gift of a completely foreign name that was torn to shreds and mutilated at any given moment. To the teachers at the schools I attended I was any variation of Myn-Where, Here or There. I remember seeing their faces contort and twist into unnatural positions as they chewed up the letters of my name and spit them out in any random order they felt fit, often times adding syllables and letters at will or simply skipping letters to create their own new and improved versions of my name. Teachers are such assholes some times. The children in my school were even worse. The types that thought names like Manure and Manhunt were suitable substitutes for Mynheer and insisted on chanting them as I walked through the halls. Jerks. Let’s just say one of the benefits of having a weird name is it helps build character, in my case it also made me very good at developing snappy comebacks. As a kid I would look my name up in the dictionary all the time. According to Webster, my name was Dutch greeting meaning my lord or Sir. It originated from the German Min-heir which to me always sounded a little to “Gestapo like”, for my taste. I remember as a child asking my Grandmother on my mother’s side, where the name came from. According to her, my Father was,” a drunken idiot who had nothing better to do than go around making up names.” My father wasn’t around much to defend this position so for years I simply believed this to be the case and accepted it as the way it was.
When I was Nine years old, my father’s brother Stan died suddenly. The death was a surprise to my whole family considering my uncle was so young and had shown no signs of a problem. Yet there we were at his funeral. During the reception I remember seeing my Grandmother running around nonstop, clearing plates and cleaning up. Her long black pony tail bounced around on her back as the turquoise beads she always wore made the musical chimes we all had come grown accustomed to as she shuffled around the living room. She seemed to be attempting to occupy as much of her time as possible to avoid thinking about her youngest son dying. Plates clicked together repeatedly as her wrinkled brown hands shuffled the plates and cups stacking them in neat piles on the edge of the table. I had never seen my grandmother so flustered.
“You see him yet?”
The question came from my brother Che, who had appeared suddenly behind me.
“What are you talking about?” I had yet to meet either of my Grandfathers and knew very little about them besides they were both white men.
“Where?” I asked quite curiously.
“Over there by the door, I don’t think he’s come past the closet since he came in. Dad pointed him out to me a minute ago.”
I looked to the far end of the room where my brother was gesturing and noticed the large, stone faced white man standing rigidly in the corner. I didn’t remember seeing him at the funeral yet there he was plain as day. He looked extremely uncomfortable in the room standing in the corner trying not to draw to much attention to himself. Considering the stories I heard about how he abandoned my grandmother I guess it was expected. He wore a neat black suit, with shiny black shoes which looked expensive. His hair was white as snow and was slicked back, and he had two large gold rings on each of his ring fingers. His face was weathered and wrinkled, however he looked exactly like my father. He looked exactly like me. He noticed my brother and me staring at him and began to make his way towards us. I looked towards my father who was preoccupied taking pictures with cousins. He moved like a lumbering bear growing in size as he got closer. By the time he was within arm reach he had grown to over 6ft tall and even at his age, was very intimidating. He stuck out his hand to my brother and said, “Hallo Mein Sohn. Wissen sie, wer ich bin? I’m not sure if it was because we didn’t answer or the shear look of confusion on our faces but he followed up his gibberish by asking,
“You don’t speak German?” His English was good but his accent still hung thick in the air. To me and my brother this was the dumbest question in history. Why the hell would we speak German?
“No!” we both answered in unison.
“We’ll I guess that is to be expected considering the circumstances.”
He extended his fat white hands to me and said,
“I am Cedric Mynheer. I am your Grandfather.”
- Where Are the Black Fathers? (demezw.com)
- My Grandmother, Back in the Day (nonficwriter.wordpress.com)