My writing teacher gave me this assignment and I had a ton of fun putting it together. I figured I’d share it with you here since I got a laugh out of it (the self-effacing tone is meant to be humorous, not glum). Please ignore the citations since I didn’t include the bib with this post. Enjoy!
Living With Forrest Lee Bezotte
My name is Forrest. It’s not a very common name. In fact, my parents gave it to me with no intention of ever calling me by it. They wanted to call me Lee and liked the name Forrest as a middle name. Ultimately, they decided that “Forrest Lee” rolled off the tongue a little easier so they went with that (Hackbarth). My name has always been a blessing and a curse, but I live with it because it could be much worse.
I’m OK with having a somewhat uncommon name, even though research shows that people with uncommon names are perceived to have “undesirable characteristics” (Kalist and Yee 39). I’m sure if research was done specifically on the name Forrest, they would find that it is associated with extreme blandness, an admittedly “undesirable characteristic” but not entirely unacceptable.
Other research points to names having a predictive power for a person’s lifetime outcomes (Aura and Hess 226). I’m going to predict this person’s lifetime outcome as, again, bland. Blandness is not such a bad thing in my opinion. After all, there has never been a major crime figure named Forrest. I can’t recall anyone universally disliked with that name either. However, there are celebrities, such as Forrest Tucker from F Troop and Forrest Sawyer the news caster, who are equally as bland yet very well liked.
The downside to being an amicable, yet bland, chap name Forrest is that you tend to get left off the list when guests are being considered for a wild party. I imagine those party planners making their list and having a conversation somewhat like this;
“Who should we invite?”
“How about Bobby? He’s crazy!”
“Great idea! What about Stacy? She cracks me up!”
“And don’t forget Jim. He brings the best food.
“Absolutely! What about that one guy, uh… Forrest?”
As liked as I’ve been over my lifetime, I’ve never been thought of as a must-have at anyone’s party.
As you could imagine, I have been given different nicknames over the years that were inspired by the name Forrest. One of my uncles calls me Jungle. He finds it clever to refer to me as a wooded area since my name rhymes with Forest. Another of my uncles uses the moniker Trees for me. These nicknames really aren’t so inappropriate considering the meaning of my name.
The name Forrest means “from the woods”. I remember when I discovered that. I was looking through a big book of names hoping to find some profound insight or a discovery that my name meant something powerful and compelling. While other names had meanings like “noble”, “strong”, and “prosperous”, mine insinuated that I was birthed beneath some foliage. Dorothy Astoria writes in “The Name Book” that my name means “Guardian of the Forrest” (113). That meaning conjures thoughts of strength, purpose, and nobility in my imagination. I like it much better than simply “from the woods”.
When my oldest son was born, we decided to pass the name Forrest on to him. We even committed to calling him by that name. Little did we know that there was a movie in theaters, that was growing in enormous popularity, called “Forrest Gump”. I didn’t think much about it until the fiftieth person asked, “Did you name him after the movie character?” Who names their children after movie characters? I’ve never known anyone to name their son Luke Skywalker. Often, when I give my first name, the listener asks,
“Like Forrest Gump?”
and I want to respond with, “No, like Forrest Gregg, offensive right tackle for the Green Bay Packers from 1958 to 1970.” (Profootballhof.com)
My absolute least favorite Forrest Gump reference is when someone shouts to me or my son, “Run Forrest! Run!” I look forward to the day when that film is all but forgotten. Dale Carnegie once wrote, “A person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” (117). When it comes to the name Forrest, I’m not so sure.
My parents always called me by my middle name, Lee. In fact, almost everyone called me Lee from the time I was born. It was an easy name to be a kid with. It was easy to pronounce, easy to spell, and still not terribly common. I was always the only one with my name in all my classes and no one thought it was strange. There was a popular actor, named Lee Majors, that was considered rugged and handsome so I had the added advantage of having a little star power behind my name.
The downside to the name Lee was that it rhymes with pee. Other children gave me nicknames like Lee Pee and Lee Pee the Bumblebee. When they really wanted to tease me, they’d yell, “Lee Pee the Bumblebee sitting in a Potty Tree.” I have no idea what a Potty Tree is or why a person would want to sit in one, but the neighborhood bullies seemed to be authorities on them.
When I was in college, I worked at a radio station delivering the news, weather, and occasional song dedication. There I used Forrest as my first name and Lee as my last name, being known on the air as “Forrest Lee”. I felt like it sounded distinguished and I carried that alias with me into some film work. To this day, when my agent calls, she asks to speak to Forrest Lee.
I’m glad my parents decided to call me Lee. I feel like a Lee. I see myself as a Lee, though the name’s meaning isn’t much better than that of Forrest. It means “from the meadow”, which again insinuates that I was birthed beneath some foliage.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 33,074 other Forrests in this country (howmanyofme.com) and I wonder if they’ve had similar experiences as my son and myself. I wonder if they go by their middle names or proudly announce “Forrest” when asked to identify themselves. I wonder if it’s been a blessing and a curse for them and I wonder if they’ve come to accept all that comes along with such a strong, unique name.