Hey, what’s the B for?
A lot of people* have asked me what the “B” in “Jason B Standing” stands for. Another way to phrase it is “What’s your middle name?”, however I suppose in this case because I’ve proffered the “B” to them in the introduction it feels a lot less nosey to ask.
Inevitably, I’ll find myself amid people guessing – and more often than not “Bruce”, “Boris”, “Barry”, “Brian”, and “Beauregard” will make their way to the surface (all incorrectly). As if somehow there was something about me that these people know which may have influenced what my parents decided to name me forty-something years ago.
So – up until fairly recently, the correct answer was “Benjamin”. I’m not entirely sure why, and last time I quizzed my mother she didn’t have a particularly strong line of reasoning on it either. It’s not a family name** (in the same way that my brother’s middle name is “William”, after his dad, and HIS dad, and probably I think HIS dad although my eyes normally started to glaze over during genealogy chat), and nor am I named in honour of a man who rescued my mother from a burning multi-storey car park, or anything.
The key thing is though – as it took me surprisingly long to figure out – that it gave me the “B”.
I didn’t actually twig about this until University. Prior to that I’d always gone by the fairly plodding moniker of “Jason Standing” – unremarkable trochaic dimeter, noteworthy at best for the conversational comedic opportunities in the surname***. And then out of nowhere the naming policy of Flinders University’s Information Science & Technology department intervened – presumably due to the nominative ambiguities in the sea of John Smiths and Pete Browns that passed through its halls – whereby your “From” name in your uni email account was always Firstname / Middle Initial / Surname. Changed everything.
Having grown used to seeing “Jason B. Standing” on things (and occasionally going so far as to behave exactly as an irritating undergraduate would and postfixing with “Esq.” from time to time) I found myself in the position to need some business cards to be printed up for an upcoming trip to the USA to work in a summer camp, and one simply COULDN’T be taken seriously without business cards****, right? So, upon arriving at Camp Binachi in Mississippi I introduced myself to my fellow camp staff and handed out my card, to which the apparent leader of the group – a chap named Jeremy “Bullfrog” Harper, with whom I turned out to share many attributes with other than a middle initial – responded with “Jason B. Standing, huh? Well, I B pleased to meet you!”.
And so that’s how that went. The B was now a permanent fixture.
“So that’s the ‘B’,” I hear you ask, “but what of the ‘enjamin’?”. That’s a GREAT question.
In 2017 I was lucky enough to become married to a wonderful woman. One of the things she remembers from one of our earliest meetings was saying “Jason B. Standing? Well, my name’s Liz Brock, but now I’m thinking of changing it to Liz B. Rock”. Fast forward a number of years, and following our marriage she elected to take my surname – however she wasn’t issued a middle name at birth, and so rather than hyphenate (gets messy after a few iterations) or both of us coming up with an awkward portmanteau***** she decided to keep the “Brock”, but take it as a middle name. So she’s Liz B. Standing now.
As that paperwork was going on I realised that I wasn’t using the “enjamin” at all, and so in a sensitive, new-age, postmodern display of gender-equality and contribution (etc., etc.) it would be entirely appropriate for me to officially change “Benjamin” to “Brock”. So that’s what I did!******
Glad you asked?
* more than 3, although I’d be pressed to name ALL of them
** my friend Virginia’s family all have the middle name “Sinclair”, girls and boys alike – go figure that one out.
*** “but you’re sitting?!” – oh how we DID laugh. For hours.
**** this is a whole other topic area to mine for nostalgia, as I’ve made business cards to hand out since I was about 14 years old, and only recently stopped, in fact. Partially because the amount of crap in my wallet was always ruining them, but mainly cos I never seem to meet people any more.
***** We’ve already got a portmanteau’d “couple name” – it’s “Jiz”.
****** You have no idea what an expensive pain in the arsehole it is to change your name on official documents in 2 countries, especially where the changed name doesn’t form part of your signature. If anyone’s considering it though and was lucky enough to be born in Australia and then move to the UK like me, the correct sequence is: Australian Birth Certificate, Australian Passport, UK Drivers’ Licence, UK Passport.