A Rose By Any Other Etc.

I was sitting in the airport when an announcement came over the speaker system, asking for Jack Cross to go to some gate or another. I heard it and thought, Jack Cross, what sort of a name is that? That’s not a real person, that’s a spy in a really bad thriller, and then I suddenly had this wave of empathy that was entirely unexpected.

Imagine, for a second, that your name was Jack Cross. Can you imagine the pressure you’d feel to live up to the images such a name conjures up? You’d feel as if it was your responsibility to at least have some kind of adventure on a regular basis, and preferably one that involved at least one person bleeding or at least sweating heavily at the end of it.

I’m only slightly exaggerating. “Jack Cross,” or a name like it, has a weird set of preconceptions built into it when you hear it. You hear it, or read it, and your brain starts to fill in blanks in a manner that very likely has nothing to do with whoever actually has that name. It’s not a bad thing, we all do it — but imagine being Jack Cross (or whoever), and knowing that. How would you feel if even you felt disappointed by the person you were, knowing that your name left everyone expecting more than you could deliver?

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