A couple of nights ago my partner and I went to dinner with one of my best friends and her lawyer boy friend. My partner and I love my best friend. She gets it, and her boyfriend means well, but he still has a way to go.
We were joking around and the topic of my favourite Arabic name (usually for males but I was told not necessarily) for our potential off-spring: جِهاد jihād had come up. It’s been a name eons prior to any (negative) connotation associated with it here in the USA.
I like to tease my partner with giving it to our kid, and he teases me right back by indicating a desire to veto it… and practically every other name I have come up with since (I can’t help it, I’m creative and I like the name Hugo and Fidel.) He thinks the kid will have enough challenges coming from one Catholic-Christian, Latino, Spanish speaking father and the other Sunni-Muslim, Arab, Arabic speaking father.
Regardless, My best friend’s boy friend’s cogwheels started to turn, apparently, and he decided he would “fix” the situation for us. Among his numerous solutions was to give the child a “normal” name, like Timothy. “Normal” name. “Normal" name! The moment he said it my partner and I could not hide our faces, and neither could my best friend.
I jumped in first and said “There is nothing normal about Timothy as a name where I grew up!”
She then jumped in right after me and added “I think his point is is that the name Jihād is actually pretty normal to where he is from.”
And that wasn’t even the only incident of that night with him…
This happened as he was speaking to me, a person whose name by his default definition is not normal. In fact, my name is weird even for Arabic speakers… unless you are into recently dubbed into Arabic Turkish soap operas, apparently. I could not help but wonder if he would have made the same comment had it been a name of Latin@, East Asian, South Asian extraction, albeit Latin@ names are more common in our part of the country. And that was the whole point of the joke, to subvert the meaning commonly associated with that name! And he’s a lawyer!