My Life

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

As promised in the last post, here we go with a bit of a flashback…


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.



Originally published in “Bonnywood Manor” on 10/23/16. No changes made. Well, except for the addendum you’ll find if you keep scrolling…

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


Cleo the Cat: “How come I don’t have a last name.”

Me: “But you do. You are officially known as Cleopatra Thomas, at least according to the bills we get from the vet.”

Cleo: “But where did ‘Thomas’ come from? That’s not your last name, according to this wretchedly long post that’s all about you and not about me.”

Me: “It’s Other Daddy’s last name. He was the first one to take you to the vet. That’s how it works in the Pet World. Whoever pays the first vet bill wins the prize.”

Cleo: “I don’t think I like that. I should get to pick my own last name. How can we fix this?”

Me: “You would have to start paying your own bills.”

Cleo: “That’s not going to work for me. I don’t have time for money or responsibility.”

Me: “In that case, Cleopatra Thomas, you’re out of luck.”

Cleo: “I don’t really care for you right now.”

Me: “You will the next time you need your litter box cleaned out.”

Cleo: “I thought that just magically happened.”

Me: “And that’s why you don’t get to make decisions around here.”

Cleo: “Still not liking you.”

Me: “Still not changing your name.”


29 replies »

    • Mildly-interesting aside: My father was once married to a woman whose last name was Smith, one of his roughly 400 wives (Henry the VIII has nothing on him). Luckily, at least in this case, patriarchy trumped matriarchy and I was left unsullied… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  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.

    Such a great aperture, Brian.

    Wonderful dialogue as well.

    Have a nice day,


    Liked by 1 person

      • I can see both advantages and disadvantages in using a real name online. On the rare occassion when names come up while blogging, I usually use my real name too. It’s not too risky for me since I don’t generally run around the net making people angry enough to hunt me down. LOL

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel a tiny sense of smugness, but only tiny because I was close but no cigar. I made it a hard gee, like ghee instead of gee. My maiden name was Boe, correctly pronounced “Buh”, according to those who supposedly know – but which brought a lot of comments regarding Clara Bowe when I was but a young thing. My name now is Lanctot – which I’m considering changing the spelling to Langtoe or just telling people it’s Lank tot. Or just going with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I will say…in my Southern drawl…I knew how to pronounce your name all alowng. You do understand that people with succinct, innocuous names still get butchered, right? The name I just got rid of…was so simple yet so complicated for reason. Even my name now gets butchered…and spelling it just makes me wonder if people can hear or never took basic spelling. 🥴

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s the thing that gets me, when I run up against telemarketers and people trying to hand me a court summons: They don’t even try to get it right, babbling some nonsense that isn’t even close. Can you sit still for two seconds and try to sound it out? Geez… 😉


  4. A couple of thoughts (probably more, but you know me and you know I rarely shut up)…okay First. Mia culpa. I have gone along thinking your name is pronounced “LA (a ..well you did the Julie Andrews schtick), GO (as in go there and wander and be dim witted ((as I’m admitting to being)) Savor it. It doesn’t happen very often) and SEE (as See the wonder and magic of life. Yeah. I’m hopped up on Xanax and don’t give much of a f*ck about anything)…I never envisioned LA GEE OSE in my wildest. Again, mia culpa!! How very embarrassing. You might be amused by my own maiden name (which I’ll email you privately about. I’m still paranoid)…I’m white. My maiden name is a term for a certain ethnic race. At least I didn’t get named one of the handles my kin on my father’s side wanted me named. Or the shame would have been mighty indeed. B) Check your shoes carefully for a few days. I’ve only had cats for a very very brief time, they hated me. Swear. They KNEW I was ‘dog people” whereas hubby (who got them in the first place) was ambivalent. They LOVED him. Cleo might have taken offense at being perhaps brushed off or aside, a thing cats do NOT embrace. They tend to get back at the big dumb people who are servants but don’t know it fully, by shatting in places besides the cat litter box….OR throwing up a hairball. THAT was one experience I’d have passed ever knowing about, and yeah. Hubby had to clean it up. I wouldn’t go near it. And I threatened hubby with revenge of a most unkind nature if he left it where it was. Oh my gawd.

    Liked by 1 person

    • First, let’s dial back on the Xanax dosage, can we?

      Just kidding, totally mean that, love ya to death. I took Xanax for a while, decades ago, when “they” were still trying to figure out what was wrong with me and how to medicate whatever it might be. Suffice it to say that the experiment went awry. I developed WAY too much ambivalence about how one should lead one’s life. I made a lot of poor choices, a few of them involving contemplating nudity when nudity should not have been contemplated. Those are some stories for another day.

      I haven’t yet checked all of my email boxes, so I don’t know if you’ve sent your ethnic email or not. (That was an odd sentence to type, but I had fun doing it.) Rest assured that I will eventually get around to it, a phrase that reminds me of my Operational Protocol during The Xanax experiment…

      Now, the cat thing. It’s clear that you are a dog person rather than a cat person, and that’s fine. I’m a bit of both, but I fully agree that said both do things that they really shouldn’t do if they want me to keep loving them, but they persevere in the doing of. (My former grammar teachers would whack my knuckles with a ruler for the previous sentence.) In the end, fur babies = good, that I trust in.

      Final note: I take Buspar/Buspirone for what ails me, anxiety-wise. Everyone is different, but at least that med hinders my poor decisions about nudity….


  5. That Cleo has attitude. I like her.
    I promise to pronounce your name correctly from here on out, in my head, whenever I see it. Or at least as long as I remember how to pronounce it, which will be… um… oh hell…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ha! I had the pronunciation right! And I love your use of R and J to organise your post. 😉

    I understand about difficult names. My surname (not the one I use here; d’Arty-Cross was my grandmother’s) is very French and very difficult for an English tongue, so I’ve heard every mouthing there is. Easy to recognise someone (or thing) trying to sell me something though.

    And btw, that grade four teacher was nasty.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love that you love the R and J aspect, as well as your sly way of not giving things away. I thought I was being rather clever, so it saddened me a tad when most people didn’t notice or at least didn’t mention it.

      As for the grade four teacher, she had been quite a hoot up until that point, all quirky and fun, so her sudden betrayal was quite shocking…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Damn. I was sure you’d be a hard ‘g’ 😉. Didn’t even occur to me that it’d be ‘gee’. How funny that half of your family say it differently. My first name has caused me many a problem. School was a very trying time. I’m unable to same my name without someone asking me to repeat it. And I’ve given up caring how it’s spelt! My surname is my great-grandmother’s, and as it is part of my given name, I use it here. My whole name is a marathon!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry about the disappointment with the Hard G thing. Sometimes things just don’t work out…

      Here’s a bit of trivia for you to tuck away: My marathon whole name is Brian Gregory Lageose, and when I was in my teens and dreaming of becoming a writer, I actually planned to use a pen name of Gregory Bryan, but it never truly came to pass. Use this information as you see fit…

      Liked by 1 person

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