Monday, May 19, 2008


In an earlier post I mentioned our friend Michelle, who provided us with the ammunition (moth balls) needed to repel the dreaded ninja-skunk. As Collette read the draft she said "Hun, there's only one L in Michele's name" And I said "Right, one L, I knew that" These days the gap between the things I know and the things I actually remember is too wide for every generation of Kineval and the Ghost Rider together to jump across. I've made this typo with Michele's name before. When she performed in one of my student movies (we didn't have cameras back in those days, we actually just drew multiple pages really fast) I misspelled both of her names. So its Michele with one L and Collette with two L's ... or is it?

As long as I have known Collette, she has spelled her name with two L's. As long as Collette has known Collette, she has spelled her name that way. It is just how her name is spelled .. isn't it? When Collette was applying to teacher's college at the University of Toronto, that venerable institution delved deep into her paperwork and informed her that her name was, in fact, spelled with only one L. Collette was somewhat devastated by this. She enjoys being a "two L" Collette. Two L Collette's are rare and beautiful and exotic creatures rarely glimpsed by modern man and .. oh, ok, sorry, I get carried away. But she really does like having that little tangible distinction afforded to her by the spelling of her name. I think Michele feels the same way. When Collette lost that L did she lose her identity? The thing that makes her unique? Well no, not really, because we are made unique by a variety of factors all of which may shift and change over the years. Is your name you? I don't know, but it is your first possession. And it may be your last. Beyond the important legal ramifications of your name, it is the one tag that you carry with you forever.

When I was in high school I went through a phase where I hated being called Vic. I don't even really remember why. Maybe it was due to associations with sleazy famous Vics like Damone, or Mature, I'm not really sure (young people, don't look baffled, Google is your friend). These days I usually introduce myself as Vic. Few years back I started working as an editor at Tantara Productions. I introduced myself as Vic. Shortly after I started there I had arranged for a client to come down and work with me. My edit suite (if you call the former broom closet a suite) was in the back of the building so I told Dean, another editor, who worked up towards the front, to let me know when my client showed up. Hour or so later I just happened to be crossing the corridor when I heard Dean saying "Sorry, there is no Victor working here" I had to go flying up and catch my client before she left the building. Now Dean was a bright young dude and I don't believe he indulged in any kind of creative chemistry but he had been unable to make the association between Vic and Victor. I asked him "Don't you know that Vic is just short for Victor" His response was "I just thought your name was Vic"

Its a funny thing, most people do hang on to whatever version of my name I use when I first meet them, either Vic or Victor. I probably am the same way. I become kind of sensitive to people's name and if you call yourself Debbie I don't know if I'd call you Deb ... well, I might, but I would feel bad for you afterwards.

There is more, to my name, though than Vic and Victor. But before I go there, I have to address a Victor issue .. when you meet me, and you know my name, please for the love of all that's holy don't say "like that guy from the soap opera" No damn you! I'm like the guy from Rat Patrol and the Forbin Project .... ok, thats done now. Back to my name; there is more to it than Vic and Victor. I sign my name v.j. kellar, exactly like that, no caps. Why? Well, that is my writing name I guess, how I sign anything creative that I've written. In this world there have only been a couple of people who have called me VJ, being Collette and my eldest brother Edward, two of the people who have been among the strongest supporters of my writing, as it turns out. A few others are beginning to use the appellation and I am ok with that, I just want royalties ... just kidding (no I'm not, cough up the cash)

I often wonder about the Victor- VJ thing myself, I'm not really sure how I came up with that as a writing name. Before that point no one really called me VJ. I can't even think of any writers who I admired at the time who used initials. Perhaps it was some attempt to establish a separate persona, distant from the everyday and mundane world and therefore more free to explore the inner world the existential world thereby gaining precious insights ... but probably I just thought it was "cool"

What if we could pick our name? One of my sisters is called Venus. Yup, Venus (look, it was the sixties, that's all I know) As one could imagine, she took a lot of crap growing up. I seem to remember my mother giving her the option to change her name but she did not; by that time she was Venus and unlike a lot of us, she had earned the name in many ways. Edward's wife, who I have known for a very long time, started out as a woman named Sharon. She is now a woman named Eartha. This was a conscious choice for her, an important choice for her and clearly helped her re-define or perhaps even define herself. That is a function of strength, I think, to make a decision that outwardly declares some inwardly motivated change. We all go thru stages, thru changes but we rarely advertise them in such a public fashion. Deciding I don't mind being called Vic instead of Victor is not that kind of change, it really came out of me deciding: It doesn't matter what you call me, I'm still the weirdo I've always been.

When we are named, what is the motivation there? A lot of us are given names that hold some historical importance in our family. In my family most of our middle names have family significance; my middle name of James is in honour of a close friend of my father's at the time. My sister Marianna has no middle name, I'm pretty sure her actually name in Mary-Anne ... does the hyphen count? Did my mother run out of names?? Just how good were the sixties anyway?

One of my other sisters is named Tyna. Not a typo, that is how her name is spelled. One of Collette's brothers is Garry. Michele has the one L, Collette may or may not have the two LLs .. does any of it really matter? Short answer is yes; I have screwed up enough people's names in credit rolls over the years to know that we like to have our identities correctly noted. Because our names are our identities whether we like it or not. Our names are our badges, that public part of us we must share with someone in order to do any kind of interaction. Our names hold a power, if they did not we would not change them, we would not defend them, we would adjust or alter or even despise them; our names mean something.

I don't know if our names are who we are, but they were spoken before we are born and they will be spoken after we leave. So get them right.


david santos said...

Hello, Victor!
I loved this post and this blog.
have a nice day

Victor Kellar said...

Hi david

Thanks for reading and thanks for commenting, much appreciated

Gaina said...

On my birth certificate, my name is spelled 'Gaynor'. I was named after a lady who ran a B&B my parent's stayed at on the Island of Jersey when Mum was expecting me.

However, people kept mis-pronouncing my name as I got older (emphasis on the OR which drove me nuts). Now I spell it 'Gaina' and every one pronouces it 'Gay-nah' like they should!

Also I'm 5'1" so I think the shortened version is more 'me' for that reason too :).

Victor Kellar said...

The one thing I didn't bring up in the post was my mother's love of Vs... there is Vincent, Victor and Venus ... thats where she stopped the V thing, I don't know if she ran out of ideas or since the next child was a girl, she just couldn't deal with Vivian, or Vera, there are 8 of us so I never really understood where all the names came from

Elizabeth McClung said...

Linda's parents named all boy siblings after the parents name first letter so for example, people constantly called Linda, "Lisa" (her sister), which drove her nuts - moving 3500 miles away helped to a country where they called her LynDA (the welsh accent the second syllable). As for me, the more I try to NOT have people call me Liz, the more they are going to. Virtually as soon as I can't talk, all the EMT's call me Liz until Linda put it in the hospital database "call her Beth." I guess THEY never grew up in a playground with the song

"Lizzie Borden killed her parents with an AXE, AXE, AXE;
Chopped up in peices with a WACK, WACK, WACK" - it did not make me love Liz.

I do like names in other countries like George or Sam for girls names, or a boy I knew whose middle name was Carol and didn't care who knew (he was straight). Somehow, parts of our names become irritable to us, I know Peter's who HATE having being called Petey or Pete, or susan's who refuse to answer to Suzie!

As for border crossings, we notice traving back and forth all the time that if you are a guy with facial hair and not er...clean cut, AND you have a guitar, or skateboard, or surfboard, or backpack - you are going to be searched for drugs! Doesn't matter if you are a minister on a way to a theology conference.

Lisa said...

If I had read this without knowing it was you I think I probably would have said "Damn - that sounds like something Vic would say"

Nice to "hear" you again.

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