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Introducing Prince Fury

I ran into a friend in the supermarket the other day. We talked for a while as her five year old daughter stayed glued tight to her leg.

I ran into a friend in the supermarket the other day. We talked for a while as her five year old daughter stayed glued tight to her leg. But after a few minutes, when nothing in our conversation seemed to directly impact her little world, the velcro gave way and this little anklebiter began prowling around in the aisle ... moving closer and closer to the candy which supermarkets so thoughtfully place low on the shelves.

My friend called after her daughter: "Jessica ... Jessica." But Jessica never even turned to look. Finally, my friend rolled her eyes, blushed a bit, and called out "Excuse me ... Princess Barbie?"

Her daughter came running back.

I laughed out loud, and my friend sighed the sigh of the long-suffering mother. "She's been Princess Barbie for a week now. She won't answer to anything else."

I was laughing because I remembered that so well with my own kids. My youngest went for a long time answering to nothing except "Miss Diana". She had decided she didn't like the name we had given her, which was a fine name, a proud name, but not necessarily a particularly elegant name ... and so she took matters into her own hands and chose a name befitting her new self-image.

Miss Diana threw tea parties, wrote and acted in plays, and occasionally gave public lectures to a captive audience of stuffed toys. Often the topics were of special interest, such as "The Importance of Not Losing a Glass Eye" or "Why Rocky Racoon Gets to Sleep on the Bed While The Rest of You Have to Pile Into The Toybox". But sometimes the subject matter was more general - "Don't Play With My Sister Because She's Mean" or her classic "They Sent Me To My Room Because I Was Bad, So Let's Party".

Miss Diana was particular about how she was addressed. She insisted on the honorific "Miss". If you called her "Lady Diana", she would sniff haughtily and not deign to respond. "Diana" wouldn't even get you a glance. It had to be "Miss Diana" ... and she carried that on for three weeks. It was cute, until you had to try to yell at her for something.

Personally, I understand kids who want to change their names. Try growing up with the name "Nils". Four letters, you'd think people could pronounce it. But I would get Neils and Niles and Nels and "Hey Jerkface", which I suppose isn't technically a mispronunciation, but still. So as a youngster, I once entertained changing my name.

My mom chuckled about the result for years, and made a point of telling my kids every time they saw her.

I was about six years old when we moved to a new town and I started in a new school, I decided the time was right to change my name.

Like most kids, I watched TV, and kind of admired the names of various performers. So I went with the name of my favourite TV star.

Nope, it wasn't Chuck, as in Chuck Connors, star of "The Rifleman". Nor was it Steve, as in Steve MacQueen, star of "Wanted: Dear or Alive". But it was a name selected from the same genre: westerns.

I decided I wanted to be called "Fury".

Fury was the star of my favourite TV show. The fact that Fury was a horse bothered me not one whit.

You think you get teased and beat up with a name like Nils? Try going out into the schoolyard when the teacher calls out "Fury" and you say "Present!". Took me a year to live it down. Longer for the scars to heal.

Well, I left my friend behind to deal with Princess Barbie in the grocery store. I headed home, and as I came in I picked up the mail on the counter. A bill for Noel Ling. A couple of letters for Niles. And nothing for Nils. People just can't get it right.

Well, I'll tell you what: I'm not a kid any more. Nobody beats me up for my name. If I've got an identity crisis, I should deal with it.

I bet they're right when they say, "A change is as good as a rest.

So from now on, don't call me "Nils". I won't answer. My name is Fury. No, wait. Prince Fury.

Prince Fury Ling. I like it. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some business cards to get printed.