Unless you have been living under a rock, I am sure you are aware of the “share a Coke” campaign that has first names on bottles of Coke. My first thought was, “that’s neat.” Immediately followed by a second thought, “bet Leonard is not one of the names that can be found on a bottle.”
I was named after my Grandfather which is kind of neat. The name is derived from the Germanic elements levon “lion” and hard “brave, hardy”, so it means “brave lion” which is kind of cool. However, having the name Leonard is neither neat or cool. I remember as a kid on vacation looking at Stuckey’s in vain for a Sheriff’s badge with Leonard in the center. I remember looking in souvenir shops in Daytona Beach for a bicycle Florida “license plate” with Leonard on it to no avail. I remember looking for a key chain with Leonard on it only to be disappointed time after time after time. I have a coffee cup I purchased in Gatlinburg with Len on it which is close, but that is not my name.
I briefly tried using Len once as a young adult. After introducing myself with a “hi, I’m Len” and hearing the response, “Good to meet you Glen,” I quickly gave up and resigned myself to my not-so-common name. To my recollection, throughout my elementary and high school years, there was only one other Leonard in my school. He was a year behind me and went by Lenny. Growing up there was Leonard Nimoy, so having the same name as Spock was kind of neat. Then along came “Laverne and Shirley” who introduced Lenny and Squiggy to the world which was probably why I never liked that show. More recently, “The Big Bang Theory” has given us the character of the somewhat cool and somewhat nerdy Leonard Hofstadter. Yet, in one episode, he laments that he does not like his name because it has “nerd” in it.
That is OK, I can live with it. Yet, every once in a while something pops up like this Coke campaign that reminds me that I will always be stuck with a not-so-popular, not-so-cool name. I looked at the Coke website and although I will never go into a store and find my name on a Coke can or bottle, I could special order one. Fortunately, I am not that vain and will be fine being refreshed with a can of Coke that has “Joe” or “Bill” or “Ann” on it. In fact it just occurred to me that what it really means is that I am just not an “off the rack” kind of guy. I, Leonard, really am a unique, special order, kind of guy and I can live with that. Thanks Grandpa.