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P. 1
What's in a Name?

What's in a Name?

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Published by Adora Svitak
A protagonist with an unusual name struggles through the first day of school with the implications of his name shadowing him.
A protagonist with an unusual name struggles through the first day of school with the implications of his name shadowing him.

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Published by: Adora Svitak on Jul 20, 2011
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07/20/2011

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What¶s in a name?He thought that he¶d heard that²somewhere²before²it seemed like toomuch of what Davy, his little brother, would call a ³legit quote,´ for him to bespouting it entirely randomly.³What¶s in a name?´ he repeated, only this time he repeated it out loud, anda nameless upperclassman punched him on the shoulder jovially as if an old friend,and said,³Whatcha spouting Shakespeare for,
 Romeo
?´ and laughed, walking off, brown leather book bag slung low on his shoulder.Romeo. Of course. It was Romeo and Juliet, they¶d read that in Honors Lit back in eighth grade²incredible, the idea that he didn¶t remember it. Well, it had been two years.His name was bothering him, now more than ever²was it because there wassomething girl-repulsing about the name Jeborah-Aspirin Gravitch? Jeborah could pass for Jeb, and Aspirin for Aspen²sometimes²if he was lucky²but rarely didhe get lucky. The first day of school, when all the teachers were doing ³icebreaker´activities as though they were clumsy first-graders who¶d never met, rather thanseasoned tenth-graders (as they imagined themselves to be), the Psych teacher started with, ³Why don¶t you all find one person you don¶t know or don¶t knowvery well, and talk to them?´Everyone else was aiming for the new kid, Josh, who was new in everysense of the word (he¶d just moved from Iowa) but Jeborah walked up to BillThurston, a serious seventeen-year-old whom he¶d only met in passing.³Hey,´ Jeborah said quietly. ³Your name¶s Bill, right?´ Of course he knewthe senior¶s name was Bill (and he knew his last name was Thurston, too) but hedidn¶t want to seem overly, strangely, knowledgeable²then it would seem like hewas a stalker, when he was really just a sponge²a sponge absorbing meaninglessknowledge, like the fact that he knew Bill was dating another tall, serious person² a Russian girl, Katya Azarov, a junior; or that he knew Bill¶s great-uncle wassomeone famous (from comments on Facebook) because to mention these things
 
would be to admit that he had engineered his earlier question of ³Your name isBill, right?´and Jeborah wasn¶t quite ready to do that.³Yep, I¶m Bill. You?´³Jeb,´ he said quickly.³For some reason I thought your name was longer. Huh. Nice to meet you,Jeb,´ Bill said with little intonation.At that moment Mrs. Sykes walked by, wearing an expression that couldonly be described as that of a homeowner coming back to find that her cat had peed all over the carpet, but having to refrain from cursing because she hadcompany over²that was, Jeborah thought, trying to refine his thoughts, she looked peeved but had a wide and artificial smile.³This is going well, isn¶t it?´ she said with false cheeriness as Jeb¶sclassmates played Thumb War and lounged aimlessly. ³You, my dear boy²´ she pointed at Jeb, ³I can¶t place your name. Something long, is it?´³Jeb,´ he said quickly, but her eyes lit up and she said,³Yes, yes, yes,´ excitedly, ³you have the most delightfully long name,Jeborah-Aspirin...´ She looked up dreamily. ³Has an almost musical quality to it.Anyway, I shall leave you two to continue talking. Do carry on.´ She swept off, nodoubt to comment on someone else¶s name or their style of introduction. As soonas she left, Bill turned to Jeb and cackled as only a teenage boy can,³Jeborah-Aspirin? Jeborah-Aspirin? Did I hear that correctly?´ Gone wasthe serious glance and bored, polite smile. He was paying attention to Jeborah.³Aspirin, like, like the drug aspirin?´³It saved my dad¶s life,´ Jeb explained weakly. ³He had a heart attack theday I was born. At least they didn¶t name me Penicillin or something...´³Yeah, but still...Jeborah-Aspirin?´ Bill bent over the desk, laughing.Jeborah debated whether he should be provoked or accepting of Bill¶sreaction. Admittedly, Bill hadn¶t shouted for the entire classroom to ³come take alook at the dude with the weird name,´ which
was
an improvement on most of the
 
reactions he¶d experienced, but at the same time, it had distracted the conversationaway from serious topics he might have been hoping to discuss.The bell rang and everyone²relieved to be rid of the uncomfortableatmosphere created when teenagers are forcibly introduced to each other²flungthemselves out the door with unsympathetic jokes of ³Thought this was the psychclass, not the psych ward!´Jeborah walked out slowly, trying to simmer off his resentment toward Mrs.Sykes with the thought that maybe she genuinely liked the name.The thought made her no less forgivable.He hummed quietly as he walked toward the literature room. He haddeveloped no strong feelings toward the Language Arts teacher, Mr. Donner. Hewas a slender, pale, sort of effeminate man with bookish glasses and smudged brown shoes. He was neither an interesting nor boring teacher, nor strict, nor lenient. He meted out punishments with the same serene voice he used to welcomeand dismiss each class, as though receiving a homework lunch was of as littlematter as exiting the room.Jeborah only hoped that icebreaker activities were not some sort of district-wide mandate, as he did not relish the thought of hearing his name repeated in full.When he walked in²half a minute tardy²Mr. Donner raised an eyebrow but said nothing, merely handed Jeborah a brown slip to fill out, with the correctassumption that Jeborah knew what to do.It was the first day of class, but most everyone²including Jeborah²hadalready met Mr. Donner before.³I think it would be appropriate to skip the regular icebreaker activities,´said Mr. Donner, to a few cheers from the class, ³and launch into a discussioninstead.´ He paused, and instead of saying what the discussion would be about,said suddenly, ³What is your name? Let¶s start with you, Katya. State your birthname, first and last, please; I don¶t care about nicknames at the moment.´Katya Azarov stood up, with a rebellious smile.

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