Chris Saxman: Otis! My man!
Okay, true story. Seventeen years ago with a curly haired, brown eyed sweet angel of a daughter already patrolling Casa De Saxman who had/has me totally wrapped around her finger, Michele and I (mainly Michele) become pregnant again.
We named said two year old Mary Kathryn for family reasons. Mary is Michele’s mom’s first name and Kathryn is my maternal grandmother’s name. The fact that Mary Kate Danaher from The Quiet Man is one of my favorite female leads had nothing to do with it. At all.
Now it comes down to what the name the next kid. For Mary Kathryn, I had toyed with Bing! (yes, exclamation point included) because how cool would it be to have your parents wake you up everyday saying “BING!” That would be one optimistic kid, right?
For the four kids, we only found out the gender prior to birth for the last one – John who recently turned 11.
So that meant we talked about names A LOT. Which ones. Why. Etc…
Well, for #2 I had narrowed my male name down to Otis My Man Saxman.
Yes, that famous scene from Animal House where the frat boys from Faber College and their dates arrive at the Dexter Lake Club and Boon yells out in the negroes-only bar to the leader singer of the band Otis Day and the Knights, “OTIS! MY MAN!”. Otis stops singing and squints to see that who was that white boy yelling at him.
Yup. That scene was going to determine the name of our next child which I had already determined was a boy.
Naturally, my dad asked, “Well, what if it’s a girl?”
I calmly replied, “Otitia.” Oh tish uh if you’re playing from home.
Again, how cool would it be for your parents to come in every morning and say “OTIS! MY MAN!” That kid would be ear to ear smiling just waiting to get that day rolling! Right?
You’re probably thinking…ok, that’s funny and all but…
But nothing. Names matter.
Like when you are introduced in class as the new student.
Teacher says, “Okay class. We have a new student. His name is Hacksaw Saxman.” NO ONE is messing with that kid.
So the pregnancy and all the conversations about naming conclude on November 8th, 1995.
And we’re there in the birthing suite. Michele, myself, the medical staff, and my mother whom we had invited in to see the birth of her new grandchild, Otis My Man Saxman. Since Mary Kathryn had been a breach (go figure) delivered via C-Section, this was mom’s chance to witness the birth of either Otis My Man or Otitia.
As the child begins its exit, the nurses are all chanting, “C’mon, OTIS!” Mother, at this point, was displeased. “Don’t you dare! That name will stick!”
I could just see her opening up the Staunton News Leader and reading in the birth announcements and the arrival of Otis My Man Saxman slamming the paper down knocking over her coffee with a Guinness record eye roll.
Personally, I was incredulous to the fact that my plan was about to work!
“C’mon OTIS” the chants continued….and out into the world arrived a healthy boy.
Michele was beautiful holding her son. Exhausted, but glowing. Madonna and child.
Mom…well, she was a puddle of herself crouching down in the corner of suite blubbering “that..was…the most…beautiful thing….I have…ever…seen…”
A son. I have son. How cool is this!?
Dad and Mary Kathryn came in a short while later to celebrate the new life and love with us.
Otis My Man was warming up underneath the lamps all swaddled up and I lifted him out presenting him to my father as I unveiled the name I had know all along I was going to name him – my dad’s name – William Mechling Saxman.
Dad was humbly surprised and moved to tears as I said, “What better name than the man I love and admire the most?”
Tomorrow, William Mechling Saxman III graduates from high school and this week has been a flood of memories as you can well imagine. Great memories of a child being raised by an amazing mother who still is upset with me that I didn’t consult with her on the naming of the child she carried and birthed.
Mom and son are incredibly close and the thoughts of him leaving the nest this fall as he matriculates at the University of South Carolina are filled with joy, love, and sorrow. And great pride.
I often wonder how William would have turned out if he had been named Otis! My Man! But choosing his grandfather’s name was a safer bet that he would also become a man I admire and love.
And he has.