Once again, this week’s Park is essentially going to be about me, which should come as no surprise to anyone who has ever read anything I’ve ever written. Still, there’s at least a minimalist bit of scholastic value to this post, in that we will be chatting about etymology, history, psychology, the dearth of social services in rural Oklahoma, and the best ways to instill shame in developing young minds.
Specifically, our main topic is my last name, Lageose. Where did it come from? How does one say it? Why would anyone want to say it? Has anyone ever been harmed whilst attempting to pronounce it? Is it a cult name? Do I have issues getting through Customs? Why is this discussion of any importance whatsoever?
All of these questions, and many others, will be answered in the next edition of…
(Bonus points to those who can identify the TV series that had the above tagline. Of course, as soon as one person responds in the comments with the correct answer, the competition is essentially over, but you will still have three seconds of excitement as you scroll down.)
And here we go…
ONE. Wherefore wert thou…
My surname is Italian. Other than that, I’m essentially clueless. I’ve researched the name many times, fully braced to discover that “Lageose” means “goat bladder” in Italian. Instead, I’ve not found anything to satisfy my burning desires. Apparently, it’s just a name, not an actual thing. It would have been nice to learn that Lageose means “he who will achieve spectacular success with his blog and eventually have statues raised in honor of his writing prowess”. This did not happen, in more ways than one.
TWO. Take it in what sense thou wilt…
Just the other day, I had someone query the nuances of saying my name, something I’m quite used to experiencing. (Those of you out there with unique monikers know what I’m talking about here. You lead a different life path when your last name is not “Smith”, spending decades correcting telemarketers until you just don’t care anymore and you will answer to anything.) Since this query came in the form of a comment on a post, I am quite please to just slap in my response and move on to the next item on our agenda.
“As for my last name, it goes something like this: “La”, as in “a note to follow so” as Julie Andrews advised us when she was traipsing around on a mountaintop with all those wretched children, “gee” as in “golly gee”, an expression of astonishment often heard during my rural Oklahoma upbringing, and (this is the tricky one) “ose”, as in “Glenn Close”, with a hard “o”, much like the hardness of the characters she often plays. And there you have it: La-gee-ose.
THREE. A rose by any other name…
Now, despite having firmly established the enunciation of our family name, courtesy of Sister Julie and an evil Marquise in long-ago France, it’s only fair that I point out that certain members of said family do not agree on the appropriate pronunciation. There’s a bit of a schism, with the “northern” contingent (meaning, initially, those in the state of Illinois) of Lageoses insisting that one should say “Luh-JOE-suh”, whilst the “southern” expats defiantly adhere to the more musical interpretation.
This disparity all came about due to (big surprise) a certain hotblooded Italian reacting over-emotionally to some type of situation and, not content to calmly disagree, instead chose to move to an entirely different part of the country and jack with the intonation of three syllables. (It’s a bit more complicated than that, but you really don’t care about the details.) That hotblood was my grandfather, and he eventually landed in Oklahoma, and the rest is history. Imagine my surprise as a young, impressionable thing, when the northern relatives would descend on Tulsa (despite whatever riff, Italians still visit each other if only to prove who makes the best marinara sauce) and people who smelled like Chicago would correct my diction.
FOUR. To smooth that rough touch…
My last name has led to some unsavory situations.
Case in point: My physical education teacher in elementary school.
I already didn’t care for the man before “the incident”. He was (and I’m doing my best here to be politically correct, because we all have circumstances in life that we must deal with the best that we can) perhaps not the best person to be a PE teacher. He clearly hadn’t exercised since Moses stumbled off that mountain, lugging stone-based regulations. He could barely lift his clipboard without getting winded. Yet his go-to workout theme of the day was to make us run laps around the track behind the school, over and over until we all wanted to scream and throw ourselves on the chalky ground.
I couldn’t stand him just for that.
But no, he had to make it worse. During one of the marathons, on an otherwise delightfully sunny day wherein the local birds would have been singing chirpily in the trees if wasn’t for that pesky smelt factory down the road, he took particular notice of me. Apparently, I wasn’t performing to expectations, probably because I was busy surveying the scene for agents from Child Protective Services that I had alerted the night before. (Don’t mess with me or I will make phone calls.) Coach decided to holler out: “What’s the matter, Goose? Can’t handle it?”
Goose. Clearly and amateurishly derived from my last name.
The nickname stuck with me for years. Oh, the wrath I wished upon his soul was monumental.
FIVE. A madness most discreet…
On the flip side, there were a few occasions when my last name garnered favor, at least initially. In the fourth grade, several months into the internment of said year, Mrs. Cash, our designated driver, called me up to her desk during an otherwise benign afternoon session. (Looking back, she probably wanted to know why I was reading Sartre during class instead of learning the capitols of all the states like everyone else was supposedly doing.) During the conversation, she happened to flop a folder onto her desk, one that apparently contained my travel arc through the public education system.
The name on the folder tab, in scribbled blue ink, read: “Lageous, Brian”.
How the hell did that happen? Oh, right, this was before computers and any type of verification whatsoever. People just wrote crap down and hoped for the best. How we got a man on the moon, I still don’t know.
I pointed out that her sacred document was a bit in error. I don’t spell my last name like that.
Oh? How did one spell it?
Really? How interesting. It’s actually spelled just like it sounds.
Duh. It’s not that hard. I’ve just been waiting for everyone else to catch up.
Mrs. Cash rose to her feet. “Class, I want you to take out your list of spelling words that I gave you for the test on Friday.”
Oh, God, this smelled like doom.
Mrs. Cash turned around, grabbed a piece of chalk, and began to scratch on the board. “Add this to your list. Lageose. Sound it out. You’ll get bonus points if you spell it right.”
I closed my jaw-dropped mouth and fled to my desk.
Most people did not get it right. And no one talked to me on the playground for weeks after that. Which was fine, because it gave me plenty of time to finish that volume of Sartre.
(Thanks to skat at My Life in Runes for inspiring this post. Sometimes the little details can open little doors…)
Categories: My Life