I could never have married a Brian. My first-ever crush was on Brian Craighill who lived in our neighborhood, had a cool skater’s one-eye haircut (think vintage Tony Hawk), and was the cutest of the sixth-grade boys we were made to hold hands with during square dance lessons in 5th grade gym.
The summer between sixth and seventh grade my parents moved us to Aptos, California, just south of Santa Cruz which, not coincidently, was the name of the skateboard company that all the boys repped with t-shirts, hoodies, and stickers. Living so close to the epicenter of skateboarding didn’t mean I became a skateboarder, or even that I hung out with them, but I definitely fantasized about them.
“Brian” became my fantasy skateboarding boyfriend.
Add to that Gleaming the Cube about a skateboarder named Brian (and played by the stupid-hot Christian Slater) and you had the makings of a full-blown obsession.
The boys in 7thgrade woodshop made skateboards and I made a wooden box I could lock and keep my thoughts and diaries in. We all bought stickers bearing the names of Grosso, McGill, Lance Mountain, Natas, and Stacy Peralta, the skateboarding elite, and covered our projects in them.
I was lonely in California and I wrote a lot. Four spiral notebooks of a novel. The main character was Brian with girlfriend Kacie (spelled not my way but the way I wished mine was spelled) and best friend Tony who died, of course, because I’d not only seen Gleaming the Cube but also Top Gun and knew a best friend’s death makes for a good story.
Of all the ways After December has evolved in 30 years (title change, primary conflict change, characters dropped and added), the constant has been Brian’s name. Tony and Kacie, too, but Brian’s especially. And I’ve never dated a Brian.
Never met one who could live up to my imaginary Brian. Or to Christian Slater’s portrayal of him anyway.
If I’m being honest, I probably never gave any Brians the chance to do so. I dated a lot of Jasons. The Jasons never matched my fictional one, either, but that wasn’t a problem for me. I kept trying, drawn like a moth to flame. More on that in another post.
Brian is said to mean, “strong, noble,” by some sources and is an Anglican name that gained popularity in the 1970s so my Brian, born in 1977, bears a popular name for the era.
Probably just as popular as Jason, I imagine, as there were several of each in many of my classes throughout school. Something about that original Brian, though, has kept me loyal to this character who could only ever be Brian. My Brian. Bearing little-to-no-resemblance to the original crush. Except he’s probably just as hot.
In this week’s Write On SC episode, we talk about why we choose the names we do for our characters. Tune on at makethepointradio.com at 9 a.m. on Saturday.
Also this week, the Tuesday Twitter chat #wschat took up the topic of naming characters. If you go to Twitter and put in #wschat you’ll find the latest tweets and conversation there.
So how do you name characters? Do you have any characters named after real people?