JOHNNY JUMP UP—The Indicative, not The Imperative [Sat, 4-13-19]
I wrote recently of how I tried in high school to change my name from John to Johney, in part to distinguish myself from my father and uncle and cousin, but also because the name “John” has so many negative connotations, mostly, I hope, because it is such a common name.
In fact, it is so common that when they ask me for my name at a restaurant, I say “Ambrose,” because if I say “John,” when they call out for me to come for my order, every old man in the place gets up and tries to grab my food, and there’s hardly ever another “Ambrose” present. Besides, I like that name because Augustine was converted when he heard Ambrose preach.
But negatives around “John” abound: There is “Johns” as the customers of prostitutes. “Long Johns” for that stupid-looking long underwear. “The John” for the toilet. “Dear John,” for a break-up letter, especially when she has sent your saddle home.
But today as I walked, in a nicely unkempt yard, there were those little volunteer purple flowers called “Johnny Jump-Ups.” All around were magnificent yellow forsythia and daffodils, big full trees flowering bright white, new green and red leaves appearing, pink magnolias—a beautiful array. But down deep, at ground zero, humbly but proudly, sprouted those little purple Johnny Jump-Ups.
They alone, I think, make up for all the disrespectful ways the name “John” is used.
Johnny Jump-Up McFarland
“In what place is it OK to shoot the sheriff as long as you don’t shoot the deputy?” Forgotten Comedian.