• Like most of us, I have gone by many names in my life:

    My birth certificate refers to me as Thomas Daniel Seth McDonough; from this list of options my parents selected Seth to be my working title. This provoked, in early elementary school, Zaff, a necessity of pronunciation as my classmates found “Seth” to be too confusing and “s”-heavy to get their voices around. The nickname persisted beyond the speech-impediment because my siblings found it entertaining and decided to use it for themselves.

    A year later, Uncle Seth was added to the list when a grade 5 classmate discovered that three of my four siblings were in high school: this baffled him as he determined that they were old enough to become parents at any time. The new nickname caught on quickly and carries with it excellent personal memories; unfortunately, it is no longer in common usage.

    Zest was a grade 7 version of “Zaff,” initiated by new classmates with more mature linguistic accuracy than their predecessors. Delightfully, the name soon came with it a schoolyard anthem, “You’re not fully clean until your Zest fully clean.” My siblings enjoyed this story too, and so adopted the name also.

    Thomas, meanwhile, is something that doctors think I’m called because it says so on my medical information. The name has caused a lot of awkward silences in doctors’ offices, and university roll-calls when it’s called out to oblivious silence from me as I continue reading my magazine.

    So why is “My name Zaff” when there are so many other lovely available choices? Well, a pair of my sisters generously set this blog up for me and “Zaff” happens to be their favourite.

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