It’s all kind of obvious when I think of it now, but when I was a child we used to think Native American names were much more fun, interesting and descriptive than our names. Red Cloud, Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull and Black Hawk – these are all so much more exciting than Bacchuber, Bauer, Freund and the like.
Growing up in a very German area, I assumed our names just appeared, attached to us on a tag as we shot out the womb. No meaning, no history. Nothing but a name. But now as I struggle to learn German, I’m beginning to realize that these old names have old meanings from the old country and I’ve just turned the corner to interesting-town.
Just the other night while taking a stroll through my dictionary I stumbled upon Feucht – the last name of nearly every third person in Mayville – and it means moist, damp. I’m not sure what that says about Greg, Andrea or George, but they have all transcended the name to become much more than moist.
A friend with the name Stark was more stringy than strong I suppose. The Bauers were true to their namesake down on the farm. And though the Schraufnagel’s had little in common with nails, I haven’t been able to find out what ‘Schrauf’ means, so it may be flattering. Who can say?
I realize this is beginning to sound like some sort of Andy Rooney-esque reflection on my place in the world and such. But it all makes me wonder who was the first person to be tagged with the name Freund and was he/she really all that friendly? Or maybe it’s like the fat guy nicknamed Tiny.
It’s comforting to have the name Freund and I’m thankful to whoever paved the way. I’ve never tired of hearing the old adage, ‘Hey Freund, are you my friend?’ followed by gratuitous snickers.
Actually, yes. I am tired of that and will punch the next person in the neck who says that, but it hasn’t changed anything.
I’m still that asshole nicknamed Freund.