blog 11: In which I ponder whether a rose by any other name would just be confusing.

I’ll say it for you: “Haven’t changed a bit!”

The story goes that I was given the name Michael because when my mother was pregnant with me, the old lady next door said something like, ‘Not long now till Michael is born.’ For some reason she just assumed that would be my name even though my mother had never suggested it. I like to think our neighbour back then was psychic and had foreseen some great destiny for me. On the other hand, she might have been clinically insane which would probably explain a lot about her. And me. 

As it turned out, I’m glad I was called Michael. I like my name. That probably started when I was in Grade Two at the local Catholic School and our teacher said we all had Guardian Angels looking after us. I soon found out that my Guardian Angel wasn’t just any run of the clouds dude. He was the head man, the El Supremo, the Big Kahuna. He was Michael the Archangel – the Aragorn of Angels! 

This is the guy who’s got my back? ALL RIGHT!!!!!!

Not only that, but in the classroom there was this massive heavy vinyl poster of A-A Michael dressed in armour and standing on top of a mountain peak surrounded by dark clouds and lightning, holding forth a sword to the sky. He looked like he’d been really working out too! No doubt about it, if you were going to have a Guardian Angel, then this was the guy you wanted. It was like being given Shintaro or the Terminator or Superman as your personal body-guard! Suddenly I was indestructible! I immediately went up and confronted the grade two bully. I was immediately beaten to a pulp. Apparently the Lord works in really annoying ways. 

Another interesting thing about having Michael as your name, is how many different forms and variations it can take. More than just about any other name I can think of. Personally, I always refer to myself as Michael. Sometimes I say Mike but it feels a bit strange and a little too intimate. I just don’t think I know me that well. Besides it always sounds false and pretentious when people refer to themselves in the third person and Michael Gerard Bauer is definitely not the kind of person to do that! 

However I don’t mind at all what other people call me and I have many close family and friends who never use Michael at all, preferring Mike or Mick as well as variations such as Mikey, Micky, Mikail and even occasionally Michelle! At one time my cousin and best friend took a shine to calling me Mitch. When I was little I often got the double bunger Michael Gerard but also sadly Micky Drippin’. (I’d like to stress here, that to the best of my knowledge, the Drippin’ was a reference to the stuff you cook with, not to any allegedly leaky part of my anatomy). 

I think we’d all agree that Mickey Drippin’ is taking creative name mangling too far! 

I’ve since discovered that I’m not the only Michael whose had liberties taken with their name. One girl told me that as a child her father was called Underdaks Micky (That’s gold!) and a boy once said when he was little he got Mickety Pickety! What is wrong with you non-Michael people out there?! Haven’t you got anything better to do? 

Which brings me to the important moment in my life when I had to settle on an author name. 

My first book was going to be published and I was faced with a big decision. What name should I go with? Michael Bauer or Mike Bauer or Mick Bauer or Michael G. Bauer or M. G. Bauer or M. Gerard Bauer or Mike G. Bauer etc etc etc? In the end I decided on Michael Gerard Bauer

Here’s why: 

  • The main reason was, that as a name (and possibly a person) Michael Bauer was just too common. There are heaps of us. Bauer (meaning Farmer) is like the name Smith in Germany, although some people here have trouble pronouncing it. (No it’s not Boo-ah or even Bore! It’s Bow-er. Just like Jack ‘I’m-gonna-shoot-your-wife-in-the-leg-again-if-you-don’t-tell-me-where-the-secret-nuclear-lab-is-located’ Bauer from the TV show 24). So now at least if you were to put Michael Gerard Bauer in inverted commas and Google it (not that I’d ever do such a thing!!) you’d basically just get me and not, for example, a famous food critic from the San Francisco Chronicle, or an unconventional artist from Germany. (By the way, I heartily encourage you to click on that artist’s link and read the descriptions under MB’s first two paintings. We have so much in common!)
  • Also, when I was in secondary school, once you reached the senior levels, it was trendy to have a briefcase with your initials embossed in gold on the side. (Yes we were born to rule!) My initials, including my middle name, were M.G.B. just like the sports car. I loved it. For one brief shining moment, there was actually something cool about being me!
       

    MGB – Not too cool for school!
  • Finally, in grade 12 we studied the English Poet Gerard Manly Hopkins. I developed a bit of a thing for Gerard. I loved the way he combined words and sounds and even created new words. He was ahead of his time – a bit of a 17th Century rapper. I could recite his poem The Windhover by heart and I always loved Spring and Fall which describes a young girl confronting her mortality. So the Gerard in my name was also a little nod to G.M.H. (Notice how by a strange coincidence his initials have a car connection too? Spooky!)

But there are drawbacks to choosing the name Michael Gerard Bauer as your author’s name. They are these: 

~ You sound like a bit of poser. Especially when people pronounce your middle name Geraaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrd rather than Gerrid like it’s meant to be. 

Hmmmmm.

 

~ The longer your name the harder it is to fit on the cover of your books so it will be in smaller font and we all know the size of the author’s name is usually in direct proportion to the author’s success and popularity. 

~ Finally, having three names can confuse people. Is his last name Bauer or Gerard-Bauer? And what order did they go in again?  

  

GMB? It just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

These days when I weigh up all the pros and cons, I’m very happy with my decision to go with Michael Gerard Bauer. Except perhaps for this one nagging doubt: 

Maybe if I’d chosen something like Micky Drippin’ Underdaks, I might have ended up the next Andy Griffiths. 

Cheers
Michael/Mike/Mick etc

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19 Responses to blog 11: In which I ponder whether a rose by any other name would just be confusing.

  1. Do you know who the artisit is who painted the portriat of Archangel Michael in this post? I greatly appreciate the image, and would like to give credit and see if the artist has other paintings.

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    • mgbauer says:

      Hi Lynn
      I found the the picture on Google images under Michael the Archangel. Apparently it comes from a Jehovah’s Witnesses page. There didn’t seem to be any acknowledgement to the artist.
      Cheers
      Michael

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  2. Belinda says:

    My sweet nephew is a BMW. To avoid confusion, as he drives a Subaru, his personalised number plate says BEN-90.

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  3. I would have thought you’re pretty safe with Michael. Try being a Dimity, of part asian backround, with olive skin who got slightly sunburnt one day at school prompting one bright spark to coin the nick name Burnt Dim Sim. Hmm. I remember my Home Ec teacher emphatically stating I will be rich and famous one day with a name like Dimity Zee. Emphasis on keeping one’s maiden name. Of course I chose to ignore her and all others…Look out for Dimity Powell. Hmm. Keep up the encouraging posts!

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    • mgbauer says:

      I don’t think anyone is ever truly safe from the Name Manglers do you Dimity. You’ve got a great couple of names. Sounds like an action hero. Dimity Powell – Space Ranger!

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  4. I had a rhyming nick-name as a child too; I think most kids in our era did. Mine was eely-peely. I hated that. But, my dad called me Laney which I didn’t mind. Laney stuck in the family and my brothers mostly call me that, or just Lane. I have always hated my middle name so using that was not an option for me. Parents can be cruel and one of my brothers has Curling as a middle name. He was given hell at school of course. It is a family name that was dying out, so it was tacked to him to keep it going. It will stop with him. I really enjoy your blog posts. I wish I could write with humour the way you do. Keep them coming – we all need the laughs. 🙂

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  5. Joanne Sandhu says:

    I’ve got a sad name story for you, too, Michael. When I was two I was very sick, so my family decided to have me confirmed (Catholics – the eternal optimists) So the priest asked my father what confirmation name he had chosen, and after much consideration, said Mary. Trouble was – my second name was already Mary. He had forgotten. So now I’m Joanne Mary Mary Sandhu. The family all think it’s hilarious.

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    • mgbauer says:

      I hate to say it Joanne but your family is right – it is kind of hilarious. And i won’t say anything about ‘quite contrary’ because I figure you are heartily sick of that reference by now.

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  6. Lynne the Lurker says:

    I can’t help thinking that obsessing over names must be a writer thing. I do know that I can tell you a very similiar story as to why my writing name is Lynne Lumsden Green and not just Lynne Green (even if Lynne Green does give me the initials LG – ‘Life’s good’).I am named for two aunts and always thought Lynne was rather dull and plain. However, even if every second woman my age is called Lynne or some variation there of, it is becoming rarer as no new little babies are given the name. And Lynne is a clean soind, like a crystal bell being struck. But wait until people try to pronounce ‘Lumsden’ without a ‘p’ sound or mispronouncing ‘sd’ as st’. 🙂
    I loved reading this blog.

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    • mgbauer says:

      A writers’ thing for sure Lynne (crystal bell sounds). Bit like getting trying to get the right names for your characters. I love that you loved reading the blog!

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  7. Lovely entertaining (and revealing) post, Michael. Keep ’em coming! 🙂
    Funny thing, naming new babies. When I was born, my (18-year-old) mother wanted to call me Penelope but she was overridden by some pushy close relatives who wanted Cheryl. As a right, royal battle raged my Dad finally stepped in and insisted on Sheryl – thereby thwarting a family feud.
    Sheryl O’Neill rolls off the tongue a bit better than Sheryl Gwyther (but at least, I’m the only SG in the world, according to Google).

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  8. Doug MacLeod says:

    Hi Michael,
    You lucked out. I have no middle name. In the Gaelic language, from which my name descends, Douglas MacLeod means ‘Dark grey son of the ugly one’.
    Yours,
    Dark Grey Son of the Ugly One

    Like

    • mgbauer says:

      Dear Dark Grey Son of the Ugly One
      Can I call you Ugly One for short or is that a little too presumptuous? I wish I’d known of your name shortage as I also have ‘Joseph’ as a fourth name and I could have loaned you that. Dark Grey Son of Joseph the Ugly One – that’s much better! I suppose it would be insensitive for me to mention that Michael comes from the Hebrew for ‘Who is like God?’ No idea why the question mark is there. Cheers

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  9. Belinda says:

    Wow, you’ve me so much material to work with when I’m introducing you to the St Laurence’s boys in August! 😉
    Micky Drippin’ Underdaks sounds like it could be your Professor Poopypants name (from Captain Underpants) see: http://www.scholastic.com/captainunderpants/poopypants.htm
    Mine is Lumpy Toiletshorts – EEEEEWWWWWW!
    *B*

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