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What’s in a name? Messed up driver’s licenses, accusations of bigamy, and a cancelled credit card

By “Little” Al S. Maimon

Names are important, shown in a variety of ways.

In our community, we often name children after grandparents (even, preferably, if they are alive).

Because so many members of the same family would have the same name, people get pretty creative with nicknames. In fact, some community members had a knack for giving nicknames (perhaps based on one’s job, looks, or some episode that stuck).

There is a tradition that a name somehow encompasses a person’s life mission - not that all who have the same name should be alike, rather each of us should find our own way to reflect the purposeful persona. And we see that, for example, at a berit mila - those attending with the same name as the infant get a literal “tap” on the cheek - like a wakeup call, as if to say - “this child has his whole life to live up to his name, and you, how are you doing?”

My name happens to be Albert - a very popular American Sephardic name for someone named after a relative named Avraham. Other names include Alvin, Alan and Abraham itself.

In my family, for example, the name “Albert Maimon” was shared by sons of three Maimon brothers. Sam’s son was the youngest Albert (that’s me); Jack’s son was the oldest; and Isaac’s son was in the middle. Sam, Jack and Isaac were the sons of Rabbi Avraham Maimon.

With all three of us cousins sharing the same name – Albert Maimon – it’s no surprise that this caused considerable confusion.

In fact, I bring up this topic now after reading a very interesting exchange on the Seattle Sephardic Network Facebook group that involved my cousin “Middle” Al Maimon. His picture was posted after he helped offer “color commentary” during a tour that the network ran through the old Sephardic neighborhood in Seattle’s Central Area. One member of the Facebook group questioned whether he really was Al Maimon because she knows me. A lively discussion ensued over how confusing it is for several members of the community to have the same name.

There are stories about a little trouble with driver licenses. Middle and Little Al (me), together reached the limit of tickets one could get before a license was taken away. Each of us was okay on our own, but together we looked like really bad drivers. We had to explain our way into keeping our licenses.

Big Al was an attorney. Yet because we shared the same name, it wasn’t so unusual for Middle or Little Al to get called in the middle of the night to get a client out of jail. We had to figure out how to handle it – basically ignore it so we could go back to sleep.

Big Al’s address was 5224b South Morgan Street. Little Al’s was 5524 South Morgan Street, the source of never-ending confusion!

If you can believe this, Little Al (again, that’s me) was listed as a bigamist on a credit report! And when Big Al passed away, Little Al’s J.C. Penney’s credit card was cancelled because the credit agency saw that he “died” and even a call declaring, “I am alive” was insufficient. I had to provide a notarized statement to confirm it.

To be honest, I did not like being called “Little” Al. But I eventually was okay, enthusiastically welcoming the new moniker “Sam-son” (after the legendary Israelite warrior and judge) designation instead.

Do you also share a name with a close relative? If so, do you have any funny stories to share?


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