It is not quite “The Boy Named Sue,” but Kieran is fucking close enough.
For 45 years, people told me I must love “Johnny Cash.” I never listened to that stupid hillbilly song — I stared at them like they had kicked my new puppy.
I was told “Kieran” came from my dad (James Francis — two normal names in a row — thanks for breaking the pattern... dad).
My parents had 5 children, Moira, Pierce, Kieran — and the two boring ones — Margaret and John. Mom picked the first two names — something different, something interesting, but something people could spell.
Dad got third choice. Apparently, he didn’t give a shit about spelling or gender… The last two rounded out the Irish family names — call-backs to the only relatives with love or money.
My mother told me “Kieran” was someone my dad knew while fighting in Korea. Dad said it came from John Kieran, the New York Sportswriter turned novelist.
I tell both stories of how I got saddled with this Gaelic name — kind of fucked up when you are the 3rd generation born in America.
Yeah, starting off every year of school in Akron, Ohio, there was always at least one Karen in every class. And I almost always had to sit next to them. The flat A’s of the midwest make Karen sound like Kieran.
To this day I wait to respond. I’m not saying shit, Karen, until I’m 100-percent sure they are talking to me…
Explaining it was a “Gaelic” name didn’t help.
“You have a girl’s name and it’s gay?,” was the first question I got in the 7th grade.
That, of course, led to a fist fight. The nuns landed more punches breaking us apart… (More proof that sexual frustration easily translates to violence).
Until I was 16, introductions often led to fights. Usually, I was the one who got punched in the face.
No Middle Name
Parents didn’t give me a choice of names either. All my other siblings have middle names. All the girls in my wife’s family go by their middle names.
I got bupkis.
Other kids in my neighborhood got cool nicknames, “Bronco” or “Bubba”… Hell, for a few years there I would have been happy to be called… “Bupkis”.
My brother John, had tons of nicknames — from “Brown Bear” to “Smiley”. But people like him. My asshole personality defied description and my siblings and classmates sucked at creative naming.
Male teachers and coaches were clueless. My high school football program had my name as “Calireon.” Fucking close enough.
As a kid, I never met anyone with the same name. In the Rubber Capital of the World, I might as well use the hebrew name for Nimrod (which is of course, Nimrod).
The name had one advantage: I could use “Kieran” for my username or email at any job or on any website without the stupid ass numbers — so you can go fuck yourself, “David007”.
But in 2000, I went to work for an Irish company. I put my name in for the email, and it came back with 2000 hits. And that didn’t include the ones who spelled it Keiron, or Kieron… or Keiran or Keiron or Kieren or Kryan or Kyron… Then there are the variations that start with “C”. Fucking Irish.
In the 21st Century, there are a lot more little Kierans running around. I blame Kieran Culkin, and Seton from the Dan Patrick show (who named his kid Kieran) and a few other famous faces… I’ve even had a few douchebag millennials say they were considering using it for their future baby.
“Is it a boy?” I always ask, and they turn their heads at me like confused puppies. “It would be a fine name for a girl…’
A few years ago, I got Spotify. It popped up “Your Own Personal Jesus” by Johnny Cash. Awesome. I asked Spotify for more.
Up came “A Boy Named Sue.” Any time before 2000, I would have deleted that song and dumped that app. Google should know me better than that.
But now I’m a grown-ass man (sort of) and “Boy Named Sue” is on my “good” playlist. Every time I’m in the car alone, I crank it up, open the moon roof and shout: “My name is Sue, how do you do? Now you’re gonna die.”
And laugh and laugh at all the strangers staring at me at the stop light like I kicked their puppy.
Yeah, “life ain’t easy for a boy named”… Kieran.
Fucking close enough.