The Importance of Being James


I have always resisted being called "Jim". This tendency dates back to my school years when I knew about a half-dozen Jims. There was Jimmy Chiu, the spectacular goalie that made our grade 5 team think, for a half second, that we could beat our grade 6 counterparts. The presence of a "Jim" in that same class (a tall, quiet Vietnamese fellow) kept me as "Jamie" for the whole year, not that there was any likelihood that I'd want to change my name. When my parents asked me if I ever wanted to change my name, I misunderstood them; they were asking me if they should continue calling me "Jamie" or go to my birth-certificate name of "James", but I thought that they wanted to know if I had another name planned out entirely. The thought never occurred to me. "Jamie" was who I was, and why would I want to be any different?

I was "Jamie" until grade 8 until I decided to mature myself up and call myself "James", and I was still who I was. It was the name that was on my birth certificate and, when I went to my new high school, I gathered a circle of friends for whom "James" was the only way they remembered me. Moreover, I stayed "James" through all of high school because there was a "Jim", Jim Iantorno, amongst my close circle of friends, and the two names were vital for telling us apart (well, that and my severe geekiness, and his rugged Italian bearing). To this day, only Erin and (occasionally) my parents call me "Jamie" -- oh, and also Eric Lork, who stumbled upon my diminutive by accident and stuck to calling me that, for whatever reason.

Perhaps as a result of being "James" and "Jamie" for all of my life, I'm hypersensitive to hearing my name summarily shortened into "Jim". It jars with me more than any teasing (Believe me, I know what it's like to be teased, what with my last name being "Bow" and my locker number in grade eleven being double-oh-seven-zero; that tease has been incorporated into this blog title for two years, now... oh, yes, and my father waited years until I was ready to drive him home, just so he could say, "Home, James!", but I digress). Jim is the common name, and it's surprising how often after I introduce myself as being James that the people I talk to start calling me "Jim". I have to correct them (or in the case of telemarketers, I just hang up) and it startles them. I get the sense that they have a hard time conceiving a Jim wanting to call himself James in casual conversation. I guess James and casual conversation just don't go together -- the name is too upper crust, or too chauffeur driven.

I cling to my formal name because I've known too many Jims in my life, from Jimmy the Wall to Jim Iantorno and beyond, and I've known far fewer James. My name, short as it is, still feels somewhat unique, and to toss it out in favour of Jim tosses out a bit of my uniqueness.

Recently, however, I've stumbled upon far more James'es. In fact, I've had one other James Bow comment on my blog straight out of the blue. What with The Three James'es (think we should go on tour?) involved in yesterday's post, I begin to feel like Agent Smith in Matrix Reloaded... assuming Agent Smith was concerned about his individuality, and the decision to duplicate him one-hundred-fold wasn't his idea, but you know what I mean! As the Jims of this world have gotten older, they've started to take on the more mature name of James. James is the name of business, of documents and ledger lines. No room for Jims here. I may have to start calling myself "Jim" to compensate.

But I probably won't.

To James DiBenedetto, I'm sorry for my own presumption of calling you Jim. Given how I feel about it, I probably shouldn't pull the same trick on you.

Does anybody make money from this blogging gig? I've seen tip jars all over the place, and was motivated to get my own (see the bottom of the right column), but not a penny has been tossed my way.

But here comes word (courtesy Jay Currie) that Instapundit is charging as much as $1000 per month to advertise on his space, and he's getting it. My license agreement with Google prohibits me from mentioning how much I get for housing their ads, but suffice it to say that it's a lot lower than that.

And what about Andrew Sullivan? He holds a pledge drive, raises $80,000 (US) and is back six months later asking readers for more? Where can I get a piece of that action?

But I don't mind; money is not the reason I'm here. I'm here to keep my fingers and my mind limber by actually keeping a writing journal. The kind words from you readers have given me more than enough incentive to keep going.

By the way, I think you should go over to Jay Currie's website and Jim Elve's (another Jim!) Blogs Canada, look around a bit, and then click on one of the adverts on your way out. I'm sure they'll appreciate the tip of the hat.

Kudos to the Middleman for taking the bull by the horns and going out to see the controversial movie, The Passion of the Christ and reviewing it for us on his blog. It's a good review, too; well worth reading.

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