Monday, July 6, 2009

My name is Louis Not Luis

I've had it. And it all started with my birth certificate. I actually possess two proofs of my entrance into this world. One says "Baby Boy Lapides" and it includes my foot prints, someone's thumb print (probably my mother's) and a photo of Newark, New Jersey's Beth Israel hospital where I was born.

The other birth certificate identifies me as Louis Sherwin Lapides. I was never wild about my middle name and complained to my mother that she named me after a paint company, " Why not Dunn-Edwards, Mom?" But notice the spelling of my name L-o-u-i-s. Of course growing up, my name went through a few variations depending on what neighborhood my friends were from. The Italians called me Luigi. After the song "Louie Louie" by the Kingsmen dropped in the 60s, I was Louie. My name actually became
cool for a few years. My brother would call me "Lou" and other friends would follow suit. When I broke 21 windows on mischief night, my name was "LOUIS" to my Dad after he got off the phone with several irate neighbors.

In the U.S. Army I was called "Louis" and "Jew-boy" and "Lou." When I heard Jew-boy then an equally harsh racial slur would be my response. Use your imagination.

Lately, a new phenomenon has taken place. It all started with Starbuck or Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. I would place my order and the clerk would ask my name. I would respond with "Louis. L-o-u-i-s.' Even if a mistake was made and my name was spelled Lewis, I would not complain. No big deal.

Today . . . forget about it. A transformation has taken place. This young man once born in a Jewish hospital in NJ, bar-mitzvahed at age 13 and a strong pro-Zionist has now taken on the name "Luis." All of a sudden I am a Hispanic person. It would be okay if I was Hispanic. But I am not. I once visited Tijuana for an hour and left because it reminder me of some scummy village in Vietnam. I love Mexican food. But my name is not Luis.

Our culture has become Hispanisized. When I call a business, I am told to press #1 for English. No, the Hispanic person should press #1 for Spanish. This is America-an English speaking country. I never took one class in Spanish though I have studied at least 7-8 different dialects-mostly ancient Semitic offshoots.

But I am not Luis. I don't look Hispanic-despite my olive complexion. I don't speak Spanish and I am at a point where I resent the name "Luis" written on my coffee cup. What am I going to do about it? Probably make the cashier cross out "Luis" and replace it with the name on my birth certificate.

BTW-my Hebrew name is Lechem. But I don't go around telling people to start calling me by my Hebrew name. I am in America, an English speaking country, surrounded by English speaking people and I will not allow any one culture-many of whom are illegals-to start rearranging the English language, Maybe my name is the rallying point . . . the much needed lightning rod that can bring about change to take back this country as an English speaking country.

Oddly enough, when I meet an Hispanic individual with an Hispanic name like Jorge, I would never think of calling him George. I would never speak of New York Yankees catch as George Posada. So don't change English names into Spanish names.

One bumper sticker said it all, "Welcome to America. Now speak English!" May I add . . . . and my name is Louis! Please!


An old friend... said...

and you'll always be Luigi to me...

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