My real name is Francis. Francis Joseph LoBuono. Well, at least that's what it says on my birth certificate. In the Sicilian tradition, as the first-born male child, I am named after my paternal grandfather. My middle name is in honor of my father. In a bizarre twist of fate, my brother is Joseph Francis. Also in the Sicilian tradition, as the second boy, he is named after my father, Joseph. His middle name comes from my mother's father, also named "Frank", hence the Francis (more on why "Francis" and not "Frank" in a moment). So, technically, my full name is Francis Joseph and my brother, Joseph Francis LoBuono.
Now, just when you thought it couldn't get more old-fashioned and complicated, there's this:
Even though I was named after my grandfather, I'm sure that in his Sicilian village, he was not called Francis. It had to be Francesco. But, when my family emigrated, they wanted to assimilate - so much so that my maternal grandfather insisted that they speak English at home. His name became the anglicized Frank. It was the same with my father's family. In fact, my maternal grandmother came here as an infant and, unlike my maternal grandmother, spoke with no accent. It's strange - and, a story for another day - but, I know much more of my mother's father than I do of my father's. What I do know is that both of my grandfathers, to this day, are know as FRANK. So, I was to be called the same - Frank.
However, at that time, to be baptized in the Catholic Church, you had to have a saints name (and a patron saint). There is no Saint Frank. However, there is a Saint Francis. And, so I was to be officially baptized as Francis Joseph LoBuono. My patron saint was to be Saint Francis of Assisi.
As I said previously, that may be what is on my birth certificate but no one, except my mother when she's pissed off at me, and a few select friends, has EVER called me Francis - Frankie, yes - Francis, never.
There was a time that I hated the very idea of the name Francis. After all, it's a GIRL'S name, too! But, I did feel a connection with my patron saint, Francis of Assisi. I always found his personal story of rejection of personal wealth for the benefit of the poor and his love of animals (he is the patron saint of animals, too) compelling. However, even there I could find a hint of the dreaded femininity - St. Francis of A-Sissy - get it? It did not fit with the image I had of what it meant to be a boy. Then there was the popular movie "Meatballs" with Bill Murray and Ivan Reitman. Released in 1979, Murray plays a lovable loser who decides to join the Army and straighten out his life. There he meets his antagonist, a psychopath named Francis. One of the more memorable lines in the film, uttered by Murray's character in response to his foes anti-social behavior is "settle down, Francis" - with the emphasis on FRANCIS - as if the name itself were the insult.
Those days are long gone. I no longer suffer from whatever gender security issues that may have plagued me in my youth. And, Francis can be seen as more elegant than the rather blunt sounding FRANK.
I suppose that my obituary will read Francis, ne' Frank, LoBuono has passed. I don't know, but I really don't find that morbid. In fact, I kind of get a kick out of it. It's sort of mysterious, like I had a secret identify. In the end, what's in a name anyway?