Happy Harris


Her name was Happy. Think about it, that’s one hell of a name to hang on somebody! Easy to understand how parents could make that mistake being all excited about making a baby. After the nine months of waiting and now the mother finally gets that weight pushed out. It’s a great relief and yes, they are, happy. However, you wouldn’t name you baby Relieved or Ecstatic. Some have gone with “Joy,” but ”Happy” is just too much.

It’s the girls who are usually stuck with these names. I’ve never heard of a boy named Happy, Joy or even Finally!

Happy wasn’t her nickname, it was her honest to God real name, right there on her birth certificate. If she had a nickel for every time she heard, “Are you Happy?” She’d have a lot of nickels. She always answered yes. However, if she was in a particularly foul mood she sometimes said, “Yes, that’s my name, Happy Burkman Harris!” With a middle name like Burkman she couldn’t even adopt that as a moniker.

So, after listening to years of complaining, her parents, on the occasion of her eighteenth birthday, bestowed upon her the privilege of changing her name. They would accept any name she chose and would pay, “Any and all legal expenses incurred thereof.” After all, they told her, she was an adult and heading off to college. She would be meeting a lot of new people and it was the perfect time to make a new start with a name of her own choosing.

When they made the announcement over her birthday cake, she cried. She no longer would have to be, Happy. It was an amazing gift and she was deeply moved by their understanding and generosity. Almost immediately she realized the enormity of the task. She had admired the names of many of her friends and had resented her own name, but she had never thought about a new name for herself. How would she even start? Would she choose a name for the way it sounds when you say it or for a person that it referenced. What about ethnicity? She admired Jane Austin but she didn’t think she wanted to be a Jane.

With the deadline of the start of her freshman college year, she went to work on names. She looked internet lists of baby names starting with A, Abigail, Adair, Alexis, Amber and finally she found herself looking at Zelda and Zsa Zsa.

For some reason she kept returning to Jane. She repeated, “Jane Harris” and Jane Burkman Harris.” She whispered it and she shouted it. It seemed natural and easy. So the decision was made, she would be Jane.

It made her Happy and that what her parents had always wanted.

04/14/2017 © Don Lehman