The Problem Of Being An Elgon

The problems of being an Elgon – other than the obvious, that my first name is downright weird!

Okay, first off, I wasn’t born an only Elgon. Hard as that may be to believe, it is a name my dad was stuck with. He never used it except for legal things like anything dealing with banks, lawyers and the government. Otherwise, he always went by Bruce. His middle initial was ‘B’ and since he had always went by Bruce, it was assumed to be his middle name. (More on that later).

When I came along, my mother didn’t want me named Junior, so she refused to name me Elgon Bruce. Instead she insisted I be named Elgon B. – middle initial only. In that way she believe I was not, nor ever would be, a Junior. She argued and arm wrestled with the attending nurse about it. Looks like a nurse would know better than to contest with a pregnant woman’s hormone levels and such but there you go. We all do stupid things sometimes, especially when we’re convinced we’re right even when we are wrong.

The reason Mom didn’t want me named Junior was because of a kid in Kentucky she grew up with whose name was Junior Williams. As far as I know his real first name was Junior. Yes, we are talking about full-blooded rednecks here. That is my heritage.

Junior had some very bad habits like he was extremely gifted at farting on command or at will. He used to cup his hand, fart in it and stick his hand under a baby’s nose and laugh hysterically when the baby made a sour face and gagged. Yeah, we’re talking about classy people here. So, I fully understand my mom’s reluctance to name me Junior.

Here’s the kicker, though. On my dad’s official birth record, which he had to get from the State of Kentucky when he applied for Social Security around the time I was 20-years-old, he learned that all this time his real, honest to God, officially registered birth name was Elgon B. – middle initial only – same as mine. So you see, I am a Junior, just not on paper.

Now, since my dad passed away in the Spring of 2000, you might think I am now an only Elgon – but not so fast. Early on in life I wanted to know what the heck an Elgon was, so, around the time I was learning how to read, I tried looking up my name in the dictionary. No luck. However, my parents had bought a complete set of the Encyclopedia Britannica. In that, under Elgon, is a whole write up about this mountain in Kenya, which is an extinct volcano as I understand it.

Okay, so my name is African. Funny, I don’t look Kenyan. And I certainly can understand the President’s reticence at having anything to do with being mistaken for someone from Kenya because I have gotten a lot of strange looks in the past – every time I have answered the usual question about my first name. “Is that ethnic?” Well, it could be. It’s Kenyan. “Funny you don’t look Kenyan.” By the way, I am maybe the second palest person on the planet. I get a sunburn from walking past a painting of the sunset. So, yeah, it’s not likely I have Kenyan roots or any other connection to Africa other than my namesake mountain.

It got some laughs in college whenever a professor was stupid enough to ask me if my name was ethnic, which was a lot more often than you might think. Still, when I was twenty-something, sharing my name with a African mountain was sort of cool, I guess.

Around the time I published my first book, I ran my name through a search engine and found a lot of hits about Mount Elgon, of course. There were a few about some guy whose last name is, ironically, Williams who did a lot of climbing on my namesake. Interesting. And then, ahead of my name and my book’s listing with Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble I see the world’s third Elgon, some company in Italy, a cosmetics concern, I believe. As i don’t read Italian all that well, I’m venturing a guess.

The reason all this came to mind is that, just today, I got a friend request some someone associated with the latter Elgon, the company. Found that ironic since just today FB told me not to be sending out friend requests to people I don’t know. I accepted the friend request. It might be good knowing another Elgon. I’m not expecting the pile of rock in Africa to be much for conversation.

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5 thoughts on “The Problem Of Being An Elgon

  1. Excellent blog. Perhaps I will write about my name and the names of my children. Should prove interesting though maybe not as interesting as yours. 🙂 for the record I like your name, but how ironic that you ended up a junior anyway.

  2. Considering you say you get sunburn walking past a picture of the sunset I had to laugh and wonder if someone misheard, and mis-wrote the name somewhere along the line and it should have been Elgin. Celtic Meaning:
    The name Elgin is a Celtic baby name. In Celtic the meaning of the name Elgin is: Noble; white. It seems reasonable given that your surname is Williams probably one of the most common Welsh surnames there is.
    Great post.

    • You could be right. The story I heard from my dad was that the name came from a peddler who used to sell pots and pans in the hills of eastern Kentucky. My paternal grandmother liked the name and decided to give it to my dad. I have no idea if there was anything else to that story. My dad was born in 1914. So who knows. However my grandmother was semi-literate. So it is very possible that the name is a misspelling and the link to the spelling of the volcano is coincidental. However, I don’t believe in coincidences. At least it made for a story, didn’t it?

  3. Pingback: What’s In a Name? | E. A. Davis

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