I was born in the small town of Dover-Foxcroft in 1954. My sophisticated aunt from New York came to visit shortly before my birth; she and my mother were both pregnant. She announced she was naming her baby Sean, if it was a boy (this was long before the advent of ultrasound made gender reveal parties even possible). Our family is of Irish descent and my mother had never heard of the name, but she instantly latched on to it. (This name- stealing upset by aunt greatly, but fortunately, she ended up having a girl and family unity was maintained).
It could have been worse, as my name, if I had been female, was to be Siobhan, even more uncommon and unpronounceable.
No one else was named Sean in our town but there were three Roberts and three Steves in my first grade (and lots of Debbies and Lindas).
So, the first day of school, or summer camp, it would go like this: The adult taking attendance would call out for “SEEN.”
I would say “SHAWN
They would say, “No, it’s SEEN.
I would say, “No, It’s Irish, it’s SHAWN.”
They would look pained, mutter something under their breath, and move to the next kid. This was repeatedly endlessly.
There is a surprising amount of social science writing about the significance of first names. Some say boys with unusual first names are more likely to drop out of school, have mental health issues and engage in criminal behavior. Others postulate that it builds character and impulse control if one grows up repeatedly spelling or correcting the pronunciation of an unusual name. Or that folks given an unusual name start out life liberated and are able to then engage in more creative pursuits, than say, someone named Duane.
Around 1964, the first James Bond movies began to be shown, and made their way up to Piscataquis County. The older teachers were still clueless, but the younger ones caught on and would say “Oh, like Sean Connery?” and I would beam. It didn’t hurt that he was such a cool character—fighting Russians spies, driving fast cars, using nifty weapon gizmos, flirting with beautiful girls. I was happy to bask in his reflected glow, even in sixth grade
Now when I meet younger Seans (they’re all younger- I’ve never met an American Sean who was older than me), I try to explain to them how hard it was in the olden times, pre-007, so they’ll appreciate the difficult path trodden by their pioneering Sean forefathers.
But they don’t get it. Many of them think Daniel Craig is the actor who plays James Bond and have never heard of Sean Connery.
But I loved watching him on the big screen— his savoir faire, the wry comments, the derring-do, and best of all, seeing his (our) name in huge font in the opening credits. And maybe he kept me from a life of crime or worse. Thank you, Sean Connery, rest in peace.
 

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