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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Rites of Passage

both my parents hated their middle names; so they made a pact and when I was born I was given no middle name, and they followed suit with my three later siblings

shortly after I turned twelve, while on a trip 'up home' to the East Bay area (from L.A.), they took me to the county courthouse and got my chosen middle name added to my birth certificate, above a caret-mark

I chose my father's name; brother Tom chose Carl, after his grandfather, brother Richard chose Mom's maiden surname; Melissa was always called 'Melissa Jane', but nowadays she uses 'Melissa Ann'

I always thought this was very cool, a great surprise gift from my parents, and the only 'coming of age' rite in our family

I heard a parallel tale, years ago, possibly out of Readers Digest (one of those little human interest paragraphs)

a father somewhere in the Midwest saved the doctor's bill when each child was born, and it was understood that each kid would repay their father from their first earnings, and then have the receipt for their own birth

it was a ritual for giving them possession of their own life, for providing each of them the 'deed' of their personal sovereignty

not many of us have such 'proof of ownership' paperwork

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