What’s In a Name…

An examination
by Chris Hibbard

What’s In a Name?

My name is Christopher Eric Hibbard.

I wish I could say that I was named after a famous explorer who sailed an ocean blue in 1492 and stumbled across the Americas, landing long enough to decimate the local native populations with disease, alcohol and genocide. Columbus got pretty famous after all, and I’ve always been a curious person.

I wish I could say that I was named after a famous actor like Christopher Lee, who has played Dracula, a James Bond villain, and an evil wizard in Lord of the Rings. Even Christopher Walken, who would sound creepy reading the telephone book but who made his big break in the Vietnam flick The Deer Hunter, or Christopher Reeve who was of course, the first movie Superman, whose live changed dramatically (and ironically) after he fell from a horse and was paralyzed. I love movies.

I wish I could say I was named after the patron saint of Travellers, St. Christopher, a martyr killed in the 3rd century after carrying Jesus across a river. It would be kind of appropriate because for a long time I figured that my parents, who are mega-religious Christians, though not Catholics mind you, had named me Christopher because to them, I was an offering to Christ. I have since learned that Christopher is derived from Late Greek words, Christos, meaning Christ, and Phero meaning “to bear or carry” – making Christophers not offerings to Christ, but Christ Bearers. I do like to travel, and to swim in rivers too, but I am not nearly as religious as my parents would have me be.

The truth of the matter however, is not nearly so glamourous. I am the youngest of three kids, with a four year gap between the oldest, my sister, and I. When I was still just floating around in a nice warm belly, my parents simply liked the sound of Christopher Eric. A few months later, there I was.

My ex-girlfriend Amanda had an affinity for A.A. Milne books (a Pooh fetish I called it) and used to call me Christopher Robin, but my middle name is not Robin, it is Eric – meaning “ever ruler” and harkening back to the Old Norse explorer, known as Erik the Red in English. Erik the Red discovered Greenland, which is not Green, it is Icy. Iceland is green. There’s a great story behind the mixed-up names of those countries, but this is not the time to tell it.

What I can tell you is that my father’s father was named Edgar, but he died when my dad was only 8. Edgar’s brother Eric married my grandmother (her brother-in-law) as was quite customary in those times, especially among homesteaders in the Peace River region. My middle name comes from this Eric, my father’s second father, but the only one that I ever knew. My mother simply claims that the shortness and simplicity of the name Eric offset the length of the name Christopher.

If I had somehow been named after my mother’s maiden name, I would be Christopher Pike and would share a name (or at least share the name with a pseudonym) with an author of many thriller novels for young adult readers. I have a cousin in Ontario named Christopher Pike right now in fact; he’s a computer whiz. But that’s not how things work in a patriarchal society, which we have, and so I am not a Pike, I am a Hibbard. It’s derived from Hebert and Hilbert, English-wise, tracing back to at least the 1600’s, but after some further investigation, the Hibbard name may go back even further, to the medieval Norman peoples (Normandy, France is named after them) with their family names of Hilbert, Hubert, and Hildebert – these names all share the same meaning – “famous battle”.

As for what my name means to me, it means that I’ll always meet someone else who shares it with me. The only things that rhyme with Chris are miss, kiss, and piss. I like my name though, in that Hibbards are rare, with this spelling at least, and a Google search of Christopher Hibbards only pulls up about 20 of us, including me. The doctor on the Simpsons is named Dr. Hibberd (but spelt with an E), and he laughs like this “hee hee hee”.

I like that I can be Chris Hibbard informally, Christopher Hibbard professionally, Christopher Eric Hibbard when I’m in trouble from my mom (still to this day, and I’m not a kid anymore) and C.E. Hibbard when I wish to remain anonymous.

My name is Christopher Eric Hibbard and I am a “Christ-bearer”, an “ever-ruler” and a “famous battle”. When I think of myself in those terms, I find I have a lot to live up to. So for now, I’m just a guy named Chris.

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~ by Chris Hibbard on October 31, 2008.

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