Curiosities

Asterisk

My father didn’t like his middle name.  He often made fun of it, turning into something “Italian,” much to his mother’s dismay.  Because of this extreme dislike, he also didn’t do things by halves, he refused to give my brother & me middle names.  He said we didn’t need them, kids always tease you about your middle name, etc.  My mom always looked forward to giving us middle names because that’s something different than traditional Japanese.  Here’s the thing: we were still teased, only it wasn’t because of our middle names but our lack of middle names that caused it.  Ironic, no?  Additionally, my dad was retired Coast Guard, so having no middle names was a real issue.  There are so many government forms to fill out for everything and every box and line needs to be addressed or there’ll be issues.  Our lack of middle names became one of those issues.  For many years we just had an asterisk added in the box–yes, we see you box but this is all we have for you; it’s not even an actual letter.  *.

It’s interesting because dictionary.com’s first entry for asterisk is this:

“a small starlike symbol (*), used in writing and printing as a reference mark or to indicate omission, doubtful matter, etc.”

Do you like the “doubtful matter”?  I do.  It seems to sum up the issue as a whole.  We doubt that you have a middle name?  We doubt you are telling the truth?  We’re not sure where this will lead?  We are undecided or hesitant about this issue?  All these questions refer back to “doubtful.”  This is ambiguous to us.

Whatever the case may be what eventually happened was something like a game of telephone:  that asterisk turned into an actual letter.  For a short while my middle initial was the letter “A.”  That really is no big surprise, I can see how that happened.  The thing of it is–and to add another layer of doubt–how many “factual” or “real” documents, situations, etc. go the way of my asterisk?

On a side note, anyone care to come up with a middle name for me–especially one beginning with the letter “A”?

Give me a shoutout! 🤠

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