if i had known that, i would have changed it to wilson

Theresa and I worked on a family tree once and Grandma accidentally threw a sizable chunk of our work away. We never got around to picking it back up.

My mom, named Mary, shuffled some papers around today and an outline Theresa and I created fell out of a book. As we talked about it over the phone, she pointed out my paternal grandfather’s name.

“Did I ever tell you that was supposed to be your middle name?” she said.

No. I had no idea whatsoever that my middle name was supposed to be Deon. I’ve told the story of how I got my name several times now, but let’s go at it again with this new information.

In a perfect world, the order of Robinson children would have been boy-girl. Dad got to name Child 1 and Mom would name Child 2. Mom wanted Child 2 to be named Mary the third. End of discussion. There was no consideration of what to name Child 2 would have if he were a boy.

So, here we are in one of the first days of summer in 1983. The doctor tells Mom that she was having the baby today. Dad was at work. Mom, as she was going under, kept to her desire: “If it’s a boy, it’s Mary … if it’s a girl it’s Mary.”

I was about to be a boy named Mary.

Upon discovering she had a little brother without a parent in control of his or her full facilities, it fell upon my 14-year-old sister, who went with my mom to the hospital, to give me a name. She went with the middle names of my father and grandfather. Thank you for not taking the opportunity to call me “Sony Walkman Robinson,” “Prince Rogers Nelson Robinson,” “Moo Shu Pork Robinson” or anything like that, dear sister.

Apparently, no one asked her how to spell what she said. The nurse taking my name down apparently heard “De-on” as “De-von,” and camel cased my middle name: DeVon.

Sometime in late elementary school, my mom told me that my name was a placeholder of sorts and I could change it if I wanted. I didn’t because I didn’t know what to call myself.

Thank you for not deciding on “Optimus Prime Robinson,” “Michael Jordan Robinson” or going through with making your middle name “von Schilling,” elementary school me.

After my maternal grandmother, named Mary, died, I made my decision to go with her married last name and, while I was at it, made the V in my middle name lowercase. Currently, it is pronounced “Devon” instead of “De-Von.”

Now that I know that my name shouldn’t have a V in it at all, I don’t know what to think, other than my middle name officially means nothing. It’s a typo that I corrected into another typo. I have no attachment to Deon. It would have been great to be able to gloss over the last-minute bit when explaining my name’s origins, but it just doesn’t do anything for me.

Well, there’s no reason to dwell on that; I’m keeping Devon. As far as I’m concerned, I had one shot to pick my name and I’m not tinkering with it again.

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