my name is johnson

[Aside to the humour-challenged, see disclaimer below.]

My name has a long and sometimes storied history. It belongs to a whole host of characters. According to wikipedia, it is the second most common name in the USA. Alas, in the land of my forebears (Scotland), it doesn’t even make the top 20.

As I understand it, my name originally meant that its bearers were descended from one John (Iain), son of the MacDonald, who branched off and formed his own smaller clan, the MacIains (son of John, i.e., Johnson – or Johnston as we were known in the Old Country).

My name has caused me a little trouble. Some unsavoury characters share the name. No end of mocking occasionally ensues when some Johnson publicly embarrasses the rest of us possessing the name.

The worst trouble I had with my name ended up with having to resort to the intervention of our government representative (MLA – Member of the Legislative Assembly, equivalent of a State Representive in the USA). The worst of it was the fellow to whom we had to appeal for help was the man who had soundly defeated my dad in the election for the seat in the Legislature. Oh, the irony… Oh, the ignominy…

As it happened, a certain fellow (who cannot remain nameless) not only shared my last name, but also my first name and one of my two middle initials. It seems that this fellow was not a good boy like me and had been apprehended driving a vehicle while rather intoxicated. The problem was that something happened on the way to suspending his license and the notice came to me (while I was a preacher boy at BJU, no less!!). And of course the offense was published in my local newspaper, whose editors, being political opponents of my dad, were only too happy to splash his name in the headline announcing ‘my’ misdeeds.

So you can see, my name has caused me some trouble. The little incident mentioned above was eventually sorted out, but had to involve the help of the MLA I mentioned. I am not sure if the paper ever published any retractions.

In any case, I have been thinking about the trouble caused me by my name. What should I do about it?

  • Should I change it?It seems to have lost some of its original meaning, eh?
  • Should I use it only as an ‘in-house’ name for my own family members, lest I should experience more ridicule by those on the outside?
  • Should I be concerned that others might think that I am a Johnson like those drunken Johnsons they know down the street from them?

What do you think?

Personally, my name is Johnson, and I’m comfortable with it. It is who I am and describes the line from which I am descended. I think I’ll live with it, no matter what my lunatic possible relations might do.


P. S. Disclaimer for the humour-challenged: If you don’t see any humour in this post, you are either unaware of what I am referring to and/or possibly one of those narrow-minded f________ists that you aren’t comfortable being known as.


  1. I got your point, Don, before the “P.S.” I don’t mind being called a fundamentalist or the name fundamentalist. My thing is the definition. If it is the movement, I’m not comfortable with the name. If it is the idea, I like it.

  2. Don:

    Well done with the parody on Dave Doran writing,

    …I find myself less and less comfortable with the category of fundamentalism precisely because so many strange birds have come to rest in that nest. It no longer means what it used to mean.”