You Spelled Your Name Wrong?
I have an unusual name. It isn’t that odd though. It is not like no one has ever heard it before. In the fairytale by the Grimm Brothers we were introduced to Briar Rose who was born to a queen who longed for children, but could never have them until she saved a fish that had accidentally launched itself onto a river bank.
Briar Rose, in this story, was cast into a long, deep sleep by an angry fairy and did not waken until 100 years later by the kiss from a handsome prince. Yes, the origin of the Sleeping Beauty story. I do like to sleep so I can see the connection there.
Actually, when I was born, my name was Heather for a couple of minutes but my mom wanted Briar, so that happened. My name always sounds weird to me though when someone calls out to me. Does anyone else experience that? I’m not sure why, because, it really is a pretty name. There is though, that unfortunate weed, with burrs that stick to hair and skin and clothing which people in the US call a briar.
I personally don’t stick to people like that, and, it does annoy me sometimes when people ask why I was named after a weed. Sigh. There is actually a gardening website online called How to Kill Off Briar and yes, I have been called Briar Patch too many times to recall. Too many!
Then there was that time in high school, when friends of mine thought it would be a simply stellar idea if I left Toledo, Ohio and moved down to Nashville, Tennessee so I could meet, fall in love with then marry a country/western singer named Eddie Rabbit.
The French spelling is Brier. I have seen a lot of schools and farms and property developments with names like Greenbrier or Blue Briar Farm or Sweet Briar among others. Those I think are rather pretty names. Does anyone remember the Breyer horses? You can still buy them in stores like Toys r Us, and they are highly realistic toy horses. I just loved those when I was growing up.
Apparently, the origin of my name is English and does indeed mean a thorny shrub (a wild rose). I can be plenty thorny at times, so I will accept that. Most though, attribute the name to little Briar Rose, the fair princess cast into a 100 year long sleep until the handsome prince came to wake her with a kiss.
No, I never kissed a prince, however, you know the old joke, I have kissed plenty of frogs!
Of course, there is the famous Briar pipe. These are carved from the roots of the Erica Arborea plant, one of the briar’s in Great Britain. They seem to be prized rather highly by the smoking crowd. Don't think I was named for those though...
The question does arise sometimes, whether Briar is a name for a girl or a boy. I am of the feminine persuasion, however, could not even begin to guess at how many times people saw my name in writing and assumed I was a guy, or that, I spelled my own name wrong and I probably meant to write Brian.
For a few years I lived in Mexico, and my name truly confounded most people I met there. The Mexicans tend to roll the “r” sound, so, by having two “r’s” in my name, it was really difficult for them to pronounce it. Most of the people I knew just called me Brem. I suppose that I could use that name for a fairytale-type character should I ever decide to write such a story.
Two people whom I have known over my span of years could never remember my first name. They knew it started with a B, and that, my middle name was Lee, so, they both called me Blee. I use variations of that as a gamer’s name.
One of the oddest situations I encountered, with regard to my name, was while the Vietnam War was in full swing. I was in high school, and, young men all across the country were being drafted. I got this very strange letter from the government which I had to take to my dad, because, I really didn’t understand it. Rather furious, he called the draft board and told them not to send me any more conscription notices because NO, they were not going to draft his daughter into the military. Just fyi for some of you who may not be aware of it, only men during those times were drafted.
So, towards the end of high school I got one other letter that was absolutely marvelous. I so wish I had kept it, but, it disappeared in the wind that often carries away so many memories over the years. It was another letter from the government, however, instead of it being a compulsory draft notice, this one was designed to encourage people to enlist.
After a few short paragraphs in which the letter extolled the virtues of the military, it ended with one of the most famous catch phrases of the day: “Dear Briar. Please consider a career with us in the military and come join the Marines, we’ll make you a man.”
Were they going to make me a man, or turn me into one?
I wish I still had those letters... what amazing keepsakes from the 60's and 70's man! While following leads online one day, following sites, I can across one for Country Joe McDonald. Oh my, he was such an icon of that hippy movement and it's music and a major highlight of the Woodstock music festival that took place in 1969.
His song, The Fish Cheer, is such an anthem for the counter culture of the day... all of those people who opposed the war, so, I saw on his website that I could send him an email, so I did, and told him my story about my brush with the military and he wrote me right back stating: "Briar thanks for that super funny story about you getting a draft notice. I thought I had heard it all! That is rich. Yes the powers that be wish us to “forget” about the war but some of us can never forget. cheers, Joe."
And so dear reader, I will leave that lying right there, on the primrose path, surrounded by briar’s, the draft board and angry fairies just dying to put me to sleep for 100 years.