What’s in a Name?

So I’m in my local restaurant, Spruce.  Not right now as I type this, but weeks ago. Just setting the stage here. I’m sitting at the bar with a friend, ready for my free cheesepuffs. As I wait, I decide to strike up a conversation with the gentleman next to me who was dining alone.  Seemed like a decent fellow, and probably had a story or two: suede patches on his sportcoat…drinking a Manhattan…people-watching. I refuse to have a battle of wits with an unarmed person, but I knew this guy was my people.

Oh, I neglected to mention – he was 82 years old, give or take.

Recently, the amount of people that I’ve now blocked on social media has increased exponentially.  It’s quite freeing, but now I’m always looking to find new kindred spirits.

Anyway, we chatted, mostly about wars and Ireland and “kids these days.” Then he went along his merry way.  As I’m walking back down my street, I see him leaving his apartment and walking back towards Spruce.  I greet him, about to introduce myself again (look, I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday, I don’t know what an octogenarian remembers….) and he had a CD in his hand.  He had been walking back to Spruce to give it to me.

Well the last time I owned anything that played a dvd, Tom Cruise was jumping on a couch, Destiny’s Child was a trio, and R. Kelly was trapped in a closet.

Well, fortunately,  on the 8th day, God created Spotify – and I listened to the album today.  He had given it to me because there was a song called “Eileen” on there.

My life has had approximately 7,834 moments of the song “Come On, Eileen” being shouted in bars, sung on the street at my approach, mentioned whilst still in an introductory handshake – anytime anyone gets the brilliant notion that they’re the first one to think of it.  Dexy’s Midnight Runners, be damned.

(Aside:  I just googled Dexy’s Midnight Runners, and they’re still alive, and they’re STILL PERFORMING THIS SONG, AND I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO RIGHT NOW. I need to collect myself).

Weekly, I get emails from kind folks over in the Emerald Isle about family reunions, Cotswolds museum reservations, Siobhan’s recent exploits with her new beau, and photographs from the most recent gossip around Cork. I always reply that I’m the wrong Eileen Burke, (“but have fun!”) because I’d hate to deny any poor old Eileen Burkes’ news about Mary’s most recent knitting results.  (Mary kind of rocks, woman’s got talent.  Tight stitches).

Because let’s face it.  Being named John Smith creates less mayhem than being named Eileen Burke with any Irish blood running through your veins.  We’re kind of a stone’s throw of each other.


As an avid online quiztaker, Buzzfeed used data science (AKA, pulling random names from an algorithm with likely only 14 various results).  To determine what my name should be, I was asked such thought-provoking questions like:

“Would you rather have feet for hands or have your own hands, but they’re glued inside puppets?”

After lingering way too long for answers, it revealed my name should be….

Wait for it…..

Gregory.  The quiz never asked me if I was male or female.  So…based on my responses, Buzzfeed assumed I was a dude.  #femmefatale

About 2 months ago, that website namedat.com was popular.  Go immediately – it’s a blast.  Then come back.

Ok, so by now you know how many people in the US have your name, what day of the week you’re most likely to die on, and the life expectancy of people with your moniker, amongst a world of other information that kept you entertained for a full three minutes.

Screen Shot 2016-12-05 at 1.20.09 AM.png

All in all, interesting and good fun.

Over the years, I HATED my name.  And while my surname still sounds like a chicken clucking in French, I dig my first name now.  Because my grandma Eileen was hilarious.  People break into song at its mention. I receive kind emails weekly from strangers who live 5000 miles away.  I meet a nice an old man who is inspired to leave his home after meeting me and give me a gift.  And frankly, no one here has it.

Did I mention said awesome old neighbor owns a 1956 Cadillac Series 62 Coupe de Ville? I will drive in that car.  Bucket list.

And it all started with a name.


One thought on “What’s in a Name?

  1. I went to namedat.com after reading your blog only to learn that I do not exist. Come on, Eileen (couldn’t resist that one, sorry). Love your writing … Happy New Year!

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