Re: White Noise
Posted by: robert
Date: September 10, 2007 01:23AM
About 15 years ago I was teaching in a school and there were two girls in the same year who had exactly the same names, including middle names. One had arrived in year 7 (in 1991) and the other had enrolled later, in year 9 in 1993.
For their entire school careers which followed, the two girls were called - I've changed the names, obviously - as Jane Cook91 and Jane Cook93. They were written this way in all official documents and got used to signing their own names with the numbers after them. However, when speaking to either of them, the number was unimportant and I only ever addressed them as "Jane" (or, in the case of one of them only, 'Cookie'); the context of a conversation did not demand any further identifier.
Constant repetition has funny effects and one of these is that a name becomes part of identity (or vice versa) and I - in a short space of time - never visualised these girls - for official purposes (roles, marks, etc) without their numbers; and when identifying themselves for such purposes, they rattled off, or wrote, the number after their name automatically and unselfconciously.
Whether this merging of name with identity carried over into other contexts (family, out of school friends, etc) I strongly doubt: where the context does not provide a need, it would have been intrusive and puzzling. Jane93 did tell me once though, that her father had taken up '93' as a nickname for her - which she disliked just as much as all of his other nicknames for her. I met her in the street a few years ago and, presuming me to be in my dotage (as all ex-students are wont to presume of their teachers within 12 months of graduation), hailed me cheerily with, "You remember me don't you? I'm Cookie93!"