“They” Strike Again
It is true what “they” say about making assumptions…
Over the past few years, PC would periodically mention the name of his Japanese agent, Ted. As in, “Ted, my Japanese agent, is available tonight and we’re going to grab some sushi.” And I assumed that Ted was in town from Japan, had a dinner appointment slot open, and PC was taking him to dinner.
Before you even say it, of course I know that Ted is not a Japanese name. I also know that a lot of people from other countries will use a name that is easier on American ears. Take the Hebrew name עוֹדֵד (Oded). A perfectly good name. Appears, albeit in passing, in II Chronicles 15:1 so its got Biblical yichus. Means “to restore” so the meaning is positive. But it just sounds awful in English. Go on…say it:
Believe me when I tell you that it sounds better in Hebrew context.
Now all the guys (now that is another interesting Israeli name ** גַּיְא ** Guy — pronounced just how it looks) I know in America with the name Oded go by “Eddie” or “Ted” or even “Dave.”
Growing up in Southern California, which has a sizable Asian population, I had many schoolmates whose immigrant parents selected “American” names for their American-born children over more ethnic sounding names. Such as “Marcia,” “Karen,” and even “Dave.” So I naturally assumed that PC’s Japanese agent, Ted, had a Japanese name, but opted for a more American-sounding name when dealing with Americans.
Several years into their working relationship, after PC mentioned that he’d be having dinner with Ted, I happened to ask “oh, is Ted in town again? That’s nice.”
“In town?” repeated PC.
“Yes, in town. Wasn’t he just here?”
“Of course he was just here. He lives here,” said a flabbergasted PC.
“When did he move here?” I asked.
“He’s from here!”
It was at this point that PC dissolved into a heap of uncontrollable laughter.
“But…but…you said that he’s your Japanese agent.” I countered.
Which only made him laugh harder.
“He is,” sputtered PC, “He is our agent who deals with clients in Japan.”
“But Ted is Japanese, right?” I asked, hopefully.
Not even close.