Erin's Journals

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Just a thought… When arguing with fools, don’t answer their foolish arguments or you will become as foolish as they are. [Proverbs 26:4 NLT]

Thank you for your feedback on yesterday’s journal on my Facebook page. I got one tweet from a woman in the US who told me my message “wasn’t very Christian.”

Do not get me started on how completely lacking in brotherly love the whole “me me me” movement is in the time of a pandemic. But to cut her some slack, clearly she had me confused with the Erin Davis who is a Christian author. Goodness, girl, don’t come for me if you don’t even know who you’re actually writing to.

For the record, I’m not Miles Davis’s son, Erin Davis, either.

It makes me grateful not to share my name with a serial killer. I can’t imagine how someone who is unfortunate enough to have the same name as someone famous, infamous or notorious puts up with the grief or teasing they get. (Hands up, all of you Tom Joneses out there.)

Actually, I can imagine, since our dear friend Helen’s grandson is named Mike Harris, and he was teased mercilessly at school (including by one of his teachers) during the years that his namesake was Premier of Ontario. 

When I was growing up, there wasn’t an Erin for miles around. My grandfather, who had Irish roots (as opposed to my dark ones these days), heard the name Erin on the radio and suggested it to my parents. I like to joke that, being their third kid, they were out of inspiration.

But I’ve grown to be grateful for a fairly unusual name that actually increased in popularity in the 80s thanks to Erin Moran (Happy Days) and Erin Gray (Buck Rogers in the 25th Century). And who can forget Erin Murphy, who played Tabitha on Betwitched in the 60s? Oh, you did? Okay. Moving on then….

Many of us grew up with the consistent disappointment of not getting to buy placemats, key chains or door signs with our names on them. Then, with the popularity of names with a variety of spellings (how many times has my niece Meaghan had her named spelled Megan, Meghan, Meghann or any of the myriad other ways that lovely name can be conjured), that ship sailed, big time.

But there’s a name today that has been besmirched (yes! I said besmirched!) by some very negative associations: Karen.

The name has been around officially since 1881, but became popular in the 1940s. It continued to rise into the top 10 names list for the next two decades. In fact, in 1965 the name Karen was third most popular in the US.

But here we are 55 years later and Karen has come to mean something completely different. The woman caught on camera having an absolute meltdown about her wait at a Red Lobster in the US, which trended yesterday, was nicknamed a “Karen” even though, if you watch the clip, she gives a completely different name. Ah, but that doesn’t matter anymore.

Someone who calls the cops because she sees people she deems suspicious (of a different skin colour, always) doing something completely innocuous is called a Karen. A meme that arose from entitled white women. 

The person with the severe hairdo who demands to speak to the manager and is a Facebook-posting antivaxxer? Same.

(NOTE: I feel bad if you’re reading this for the first time and hadn’t had the experience of seeing the whole Karen thing going around. You’re probably lucky; as is so often the case on social media, it may not be worth your time or effort to look into it and you were possibly better off not hearing about it. But there’s a very good chance you will now notice it as a poke or a punchline somewhere. Here’s a link to a story in The Atlantic, if you’d like to read more.)

It bugs me that the name is being thrown around in the worst ways, the way #OKBoomer was meant just to say, “Your opinion doesn’t count, so just sit down” to anyone who might be, like, older than they are.

#OKBoomer doesn’t bother me. I couldn’t care less what someone who can’t use his or her words thinks.

But Karen? That’s a different ballgame. It’s not fair.

Sure, it’s not the first time that a person’s name has become a punchline. Just ask any Dick. It’s been going on for decades (likely centuries – a little digging into Shakespeare would probably bear that out).

But I’m peeved about it because a very sweet and dear cousin, who’s only in her thirties, is named Karen. And she couldn’t possibly be a better person. She is none of those things that her name has been associated with. She’s lovely and level-headed, smart and kind and, with two little ones and another on the way, I know that our Karen has many more important concerns than her name as a meme in 2020. Plus, she’d laugh and say, “Whatever.”

And let’s face it, so do we all.

Yes, YES, YES!!! there are a lot more things to worry about today than some pop cultural slights that are happening, but with any kind of luck, this will soon fade back into the troll cave these things come from. But that doesn’t make me wrong for carin’ about Karen.

And here’s a mean twist: the aforementioned grandson Mike Harris? His mother’s name? Karen. 

Back with you here tomorrow.

Rob WhiteheadThursday, May 14, 2020