Friday, February 29, 2008
You can call me the Universal Ruler.
That's the meaning of the name 'Uwe'. I'm pretty sure my parents didn't intend to name me to become a dictator one day. Actually, they had two inspirations:
This rather stern looking fellow, a highly regarded politician in the 60's. (I'm still working on that stare.) Kai-Uwe von Hassel was member of the Christian Democrats, my parents always voted Social Democrats. Did they try to push me into a certain direction???
And, more importantly, one of the most beloved soccer players in Germany, the always smiling Uwe Seeler.
Because my mother felt that Uwe was too short, they called me Uwe-Karsten. (Thank God not Kai Uwe, that was the second choice. Whew!)
Little did they know that their son would migrate to the US one day and thereby create a dilemma: How can I convince Americans that my name is Uwe and not Huey, Ooov, Hoover, Hover, etc.? Well, I decided to go for two different tactics:
- For friends, co-workers, people I interact with very often, I help them out pronouncing my name correctly. It might take 20 tries, 2 months, 5 years: at one point the 'Uwe' sounds almost right. Almost is good enough.
- For Starbucks, restaurant reservations I work with my second ego: Bob. Bob grew up in some little town in Kansas, played football in his younger years, studied at some State College, drank too much beer in his 20's, always had a clear career path in mind, one day drove to Los Angeles to make it there or anywhere. Kind of the opposite of me. (Except for the beer.)
Bob and I live peacefully together. Uwe never ordered a cappuccino at Starbucks. Bob always does it for him. Bob doesn't have any friends (besides Uwe), just baristas, hosts and strangers on the phone he meets once in a while.
So, when you meet me and I introduce myself as Uwe, you already made a big step from a stranger to somebody I value enough to explain at length the origin and correct pronunciation of my name. (and Bob will retreat into his solitary existence.)
Which reminds me, my maiden last name is even more unusual. When I got married, I took my wife's name. Call me progressive. Or just lazy.