My Life

Sunday in the Park with Brian: Therapy Session #8 (The Name Game Version)

sunday-in-the-park-1

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?

Like this.

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.

Cheers.

 

(Thanks to skat at My Life in Runes for inspiring this post. Sometimes the little details can open little doors…)

 

29 replies »

  1. The genesis of names, and in particular surnames (always feel I should spell it SIRnames) is interesting and contentious. Apparently my last name means (in some interpretations) “wolf in a clearing in the forest” – personally I think it means “wolf in a clearing in the forest, because they ate all the sheep”. really I think we are more affiliated with the sheep (being wooly) than the wolf (being furry).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Some teachers should not be teachers. I think some do it to repay torture to kids that had nothing to do with their own.

    I had a white math teacher that used to use a stand for his book like a preacher minus the wide bottom of the pulpit. He would put his long leg over it I don’t know how that is appropriate but then with the other hand to intimidate the class hit that swinging foot with the large wooden paddle.

    He also made a big production of taking boys out in the hall to give them 3 “licks” as it was in Arkansas. The teacher went out first then the student was to follow . of course the stupid would borrow a billfold from another friend as to pad the other side of his buttocks.

    Then we would hear “Wham ,yell , wham, yell, wham , yell” then the teacher came in smiling and the student would be excused to the bathroom to “gather” himself.

    The girls he tortured in a different way. If you timidly asked him a question he would scream out “Miss Smith what do you want to ask since you didn’t listen the first time” after he did me that way once I never asked another question. I hated drawing attention to myself because I had terrible self esteem issues beyond low.

    That is why I failed math in high school. I just didn’t get it and would not open my mouth again to ask. He was a bullying and a complete asshole.

    I quit high school in the 11th Grade because of him and other teachers that did their best to make my time there pure hell.

    Funny when I came out of my shy ways as an adult at 43 I took a GED class at a local college after 4 years in high school learning nothing in math. I took a 6 week class and I asked every time I didnt understand and the teacher there who looked like a black share cropper stopped and went back as many times as it took for me to understand . He was kind , funny and very understanding and he loved to teach.

    in 6 weeks I was up to Algeria and everything needed to take my test.

    In Arkansas you needed a 45 to pass . Anything over 50 and you got two years at the local college tuition free. I made a 65. I proved to myself I was not as stupid as I thought was. What the first teacher did to my learning should have been a crime. His hateful adittude made me quit school.

    I knew I had to have Math to graduate so I just gave up. Telling my mother did no good she sided with the teacher and I just have up.

    I went to school to college graduated with honors and student of the year from the Vo-Tech school I attended first for a year . I took Computerized Accounting there.

    I guess I wasn’t the one that was stupid in my case it was the lack of a good teacher.

    When my last day of class was over I presented my GED teacher with a plaque with ” Worlds Greatest Teacher ” and his name engraved on it.

    All it takes is a good heart to be a great teacher and the patience to go over the same material to get it into a thick head like mine. God bless him for being my teacher .

    .Jordan

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jordan, thank you for sharing your story. I definitely agree that there are some teachers who have no business standing in front of a class, let alone making decisions that affect a student’s educational path. It’s good that you were able to eventually triumph over your past experiences, as many students never make it back from those early pitfalls. I was lucky in that I had a string of very caring and motivating teachers through most of my education. (There were some clunkers, and a few of them were really terrible and should have been fired.) On a related note, I think it’s very unfortunate that, in many states in the US, teaching is one of the lowest-paid professions. To me, a good teacher is an invaluable resource and actually has a part in defining the future of society, and they should be rewarded for their efforts.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Some teachers should not be teachers. I think some do it to repay torture to kids that had nothing to do with their own.

    I had a white math teacher that used to use a stand for his book like a preacher minus the wide bottom of the pulpit. He would put his long leg over it I don’t know how that is appropriate but then with the other hand to intimidate the class hit that swinging foot with the large wooden paddle.

    He also made a big production of taking boys out in the hall to give them 3 “licks” as it was called in Arkansas. The teacher went out first then the student was to follow .

    Of course the stupid would borrow a billfold from another friend as to pad the other side of his buttocks.

    Then we would hear “Wham ,yell , wham, yell, wham , yell” then the teacher came in smiling and the student would be excused to the bathroom to “gather” himself.

    The girls he tortured in a different way. If you timidly asked him a question he would scream out “Miss Smith what do you want to ask since you didn’t listen the first time” after he did me that way once, I never asked another question. I hated drawing attention to myself because I had terrible self esteem issues, beyond low.

    That is why I failed math in high school. I just didn’t get it and would not open my mouth again to ask. He was a bully and a complete asshole.

    I quit high school in the 11th Grade because of him and other teachers that did their best to make my time there pure hell.

    Funny when I came out of my shy ways as an adult at 43 I took a GED class at a local college after 4 years in high school learning nothing in math. I took a 6 week class and I asked every time I didnt understand and the teacher there who looked like a black share cropper stopped and went back as many times as it took for me to understand . He was kind , funny and very understanding and he loved to teach.

    In 6 weeks I was up to Algebra and everything needed to take my test.

    In Arkansas you needed a 45 to pass . Anything over 50 and you got two years at the local college tuition free. I made a 65.

    I proved to myself I was not as stupid as I thought was. What the first teacher did to my learning should have been a crime. His hateful adittude made me quit school.

    I knew I had to have Math to graduate so I just gave up. Telling my mother did no good she sided with the teacher and I just gave up.

    I went to school to college graduated with honors and student of the year from the Vo-Tech school I attended first for a year were I took Computerized Accounting .

    I guess I wasn’t the one that was stupid in my case it was the lack of a good teacher.

    When my last day of class was over I presented my GED teacher with a plaque with ” Worlds Greatest Teacher ” and his name engraved on it.

    All it takes is a good heart to be a great teacher and the patience to go over the same material to get it into a thick head like mine. God bless him for being my teacher .

    .Jordan

    Like

  4. I thought that your surname was French! I pronounced it “La-jay-ose” in my head, LOL – I was sort of close!
    😉

    P.S. I’ve had some interesting co-workers in the past, who had some interesting surnames… “Pierepiekarz” and “Quilici,” to name a couple!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Many people do assume my name is French. It just has that “look” about it. And to be honest, if I’m not in the mood for small talk, I don’t even try to correct them and just wait for them to send the tube back at the bank drive-thru… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ah, Lordy, Brian, what hell you endured. But at least you had Sartre. That, and the knowledge you were the only one in fourth grade – possibly all of Oklahoma – who could pronounce his name correctly.
    Sometimes when I hear teachers complain about how quickly our administrators jump when there’s a student or parent complaint, I think of how things were when I was young. My parents never knew what a monster my 6th grade teacher was, because I knew complaining would accomplish nothing. So are we raising kids today to speak up for themselves and be proactive, or are we raising them to be whiners who can’t take the slightest bit of criticism? It’s such a hard call, but I still prefer it over what we went through.
    On the other hand, from such pain comes reflection, growth, and well written blog posts. Well done, as always.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, times were definitely different back then, pardon the cliche. Somewhere in the archives I have the sordid tale of a certain high school history teacher who would hurl chalkboard erasers at students to get their attention or if they answered a question incorrectly. He was a football coach, so nothing was ever done to stop the abuse, even if the student ended up in the nurse’s office. It was pathetic, but it was also Broken Arrow, and football was a religion.

      As for the the current state of affairs, you are obviously in a much better position to analyze than I am, but it does seem that the students have far more rights (and therefore control) than the teachers. However, there are still so many jerks out there (did somebody say “Donald Trump rally”?) that, until you get the jerks off the playing field, we have to be over-protective. So, six of one, half dozen of another, which neatly ties up this entry, beginning and ending with a cliche. (My eighth-grade English teacher, the divine Myrna Campbell, would appreciate the thematic consistency.) 😉

      Liked by 1 person

        • You get so many points with that, as I still remember the conversation even though I was practically a wee bairn at the time (okay fine, I was probably 13), with my memory assisted by having watched the series on DVD later. You are 99.3 percent assured of winning the prize, but I have to wait just a sec or two to see how Joe responds to my comment below, as he got awfully close to giving up the answer. (This is how it is in the cutthroat world of Bonnywood Manor trivia. Victory can be snatched from you over a tiny quibble.) Still, great props to your for answering without truly answering, effectively leaving the competition still open. Your “Team Player!” toaster oven is in the mail… 😉

          Liked by 2 people

  6. Will Goose get his revenge on his former P.E. coach? Will Brian ever learn the state capitals? These questions and many others will be answered in the next episode of…Sunday in the Park.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I was actually going to ask how you pronounced your name! What a brilliant post! By the way, I know your pain… my maiden name is Gustaveson. Try that one on for size. And to give you a hint with the pronunciation, it doesn’t start with a “goo” sound, although I am a descendant of King Gustav of Sweden… (okay, not really, but someone with a similar name thought everyone with “Gustav” in their name was a descendant.) ;D

    Liked by 1 person

    • See, you could have left off that last bit with the “not really”. Then I would have been able to run around and tell people that I am tenuously associated with royalty. (You can touch me for five bucks! Cash only.) Now, with my history of dabbing in linguistics, I would proffer “Guss-stave-son” as a possible pronunciation, with a hard “a” and silent “e” on the second syllable. Would that be anywhere close?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Almost perfect! But the “e” isn’t silent… “guss-stave-i-son.” (Short “i” sound) Well done! Back in the day, I could always tell who was a telemarketer by the way the name was pronounced, as I’m sure you could too, 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  8. The enjoyment I have with Dickson for a last name is continuous. I’ve had friends accidentally search for my blog but end at “Lady Dicks” by accident and quietly curse my name at their work station as a bunch of unwanted pictures infiltrate their computer screen.

    Never a dull moment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, to be fair, most internet search queries eventually lead to porn and/or those fake warnings advising that if you don’t call a telemarketer a certain 800 number, your PC is going to explode and everyone will die. So, you’re actually offering a service, with an express-option search term that gets you right to the danglies (prosthetic or otherwise) in just a few seconds. You should win a humanitarian award of some kind, just like Mother Theresa…

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Had there been an “r” in an appropriate junction in that name, you could have used it to your advantage in the era in which size matters. That aside, Goose? So glad I wasn’t in your PE class, I’d have been nick named “peed-in-pant-laughing”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, since you gently opened the portal to more ribald tales, I should mention that, back in more youthful years, I did engage in the randier side of social media, if you’ll excuse my indiscretion. And it was rather surprising how many potential prospects inserted an “r”, at least in their minds, and they came a calling based in their fevered visions. I usually ignored them, unless their profile pic was REALLY satisfying. But enough about me. If you HAD been beside me during the Goose-Christening ceremony, I choose to believe that you would have defended my honor and vanquished the beast. And then we would go have tea… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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