My New Original Name

Today the clock strikes 45. It’s my birthday, and after 45 years as Terry Thompson (yawn), I’m celebrating this day by changing my name.

Mind you, it’s nothing nearly as dramatic as Cat Stevens changing his name to Jusuf Islam, or Robert Zimmerman to Bob Dylan, or Gordon Sumner to Sting, or Paul Hewson to Bono, or Declan McManus to Elvis Costello, or Don Van Vliet to Captain Beefheart, or Arnold Dorsey to Engelbert Humperdinck, or Cordazer Calvin Broadus Jr. to Snoop Dogg, or Sean Combs to Puff Daddy to P. Diddy to Diddy.

In fact, by changing my name I’m not changing my name at all. I’m returning to my original name, the one my parents lovingly gave me: Terrill Thompson.

Why? I could answer this question by framing the name change as an icon representing this monumental transition into a new era in my life (middle age). Or I could answer that I’ve wanted to do this for a long time, ever since my lifelong buddy Mike (best friend since second grade) invited dozens of his closest friends over for dinner decades ago and proudly proclaimed from the head of the table that he was now Michael, not Mike. Michael embraced his new identity with style and never looked back. I’ve always admired that.

However, the main reason I’m changing my name is practicality. A Google search for “Terry Thompson” yields 512,000 results (4.6 million if I drop the “p”). While living twelve years in Lawrence, Kansas, the other Terry Thompson and I often received each others’ mail, phone calls, banked at the same bank, went to the same doctor. It was quite confusing. Now in Bellingham, Washington, I’m enduring the exact same thing with Terry Thompson, who actually sat next to me on a recent flight from Seattle (we’re both IT professionals, as well as Alaska Air MVP’s). Imagine this, which actually happened:

“Your name, sir?”
“Terry Thompson”
“You’ve already checked in, sir.”
“No I haven’t.”
“Yes you have.”
“I’m telling you, I haven’t”.
“I’m telling you, you have.”

In contrast, a Google search for “Terrill Thompson” returns only 641 results, and many of them are mine!

I’ve been gradually transitioning toward this day for a while now, but the transition was officially complete today when I replaced “Terry” with “Terrill” in my Facebook profile, and clicked the “Change Name” button:

screen shot of a Facebook form, mouse cursor poised to click the 'Change Name' button

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