Author’s Intent, Name Game

Depending upon circumstances, I use different variations on my name in different contexts. For most official documents, I’m Grady M. Lupo but as an author, I prefer G. M. Lupo. Before age twenty, I was known by my first name but from twenty on, I became known by my middle name, Matthew or, more commonly, Matt. I generally answer to either, but when I introduce myself in an informal setting, I’m Matt.

Family and people who knew me when I was a kid or teenager still frequently call me by my first name. Whenever someone I’ve met recently hears this, they often believe that calling me Grady is some sort of secret privilege and will sometimes start using that name as well, which usually bugs me. If I’ve introduced myself to someone a particular way, that’s how I prefer to be addressed. Using something else signals to me one really doesn’t know me very well.

Some people seem to think my first name is my last name. Whenever I go to the doctor or other places where I have to sign in, they often call me back as “Mr. Grady”. Others will list me as “Matt Grady” as though the concept of first name and preferred name is alien to them. Whenever I’m listed in a playbill for a show, I obsessively insist on being identified as “G. M.” since so many in the theatrical community know me as Matt.

It always bothers me when bank tellers or other customer service people address me by my first name instead of “Mr. Lupo”. I just don’t feel our relationship warrants that level of intimacy. In professional settings like that, I feel formality is more in order, and since my relationship with the bank is business and not casual, I don’t feel that lends itself to first names.

Having been born in Atlanta, where the name Grady is so prominent, one might imagine that’s where my first name originates. This is only partly true. I was named after my two grandfathers, which means there was the remote possibility that I could have been christened Pharris Glenmore. My paternal grandfather, however, was most likely named after Henry Grady, though where he got his middle name remains a mystery. There’s an old town called Glenmore in South Georgia, but its origins are murky as well.

Shakespeare says, “What’s in a name?” What, indeed. It is said that in the days when people believed in demons, that knowing the demon’s name gave one power over it. There is, perhaps, a certain power in how one is known, and calling someone by his or her name does imply a more intimate relationship. At the very least, it denotes familiarity or that someone took the time to learn someone’s name. I’m always gratified, however, when someone asks how I prefer to be addressed. That’s just simple courtesy in my book.

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