Why everyone should have different names

Welcome class,

As part of our course on "How Not to Embarass Yourself in Social Situations," today’s lesson will focus on Why people should always have different names.

Let’s begin:

Let’s say you had two friends named Tessa. One Tessa is Australian; the other is Swedish.

You are much closer friends with the Swedish Tessa than you are with the Australian Tessa.

One day, you and a different friend [insert friend’s name here] are discussing Tessa’s birthday party. You already have plans for the night of the party, so you swiftly put it out of your mind. Several days pass, and [insert friend’s name] tells you how much s/he is not looking forward to Tessa’s birthday party that night. You had completely forgotten about the party (because you are busy and, sometimes, acceptably selfish.) You decide to remedy the fact that you cannot/will not go to the party that evening by sending Tessa a text message to say "Happy Birthday".
After all, you do like Tessa. You just can’t/won’t go to the party that night.

Then you get a brilliant idea! Why not send a really personalised "Happy Birthday" message, instead of the same old "Happy Birthday, Tess!" that she will probably receive many times that day. So, you look up how to say "Happy Birthday" in Swedish:

Grattis på födelsedagen! (you write, and then, being cheeky, write the "Happy Birthday" song too:)
Ja må du leva, ja må du leva, ja må du leva uti hundrade år.
Javisst ska du leva, javisst ska du leva, javisst ska du leva uti hundrade år.

You feel pretty chuffed once you’ve sent that message.

Now, normally, this would be an excellent way to demonstrate good social skills. You realise it’s your friend’s birthday, and so you decide to send a nice, Swedish greeting by way of celebration.

But the best of plans will all be foiled because people should never be allowed to have the same name. It’s confusing. It leads to mix-ups. It can make you look foolish, especially if you’ve been staring at a computer screen all day and are in desperate need of the weekend and its subsequent relaxing activities.

You see, class, it wasn’t Swedish Tessa’s birthday at all! It was Australian Tessa’s birthday! So it is not surprising that Swedish Tessa replies to your good-natured message with an equally good-natured (but slightly embarrassing) text, which informs you that her birthday is, in fact, in December.

Of course, you do know that — I mean, you are good friends, after all. But you have just given her the impression that you don’t know that. Luckily, it is a hilarious mistake, and Swedish Tessa laughs with you more than she laughs at you in her reply. This laughter is also facilitated by the fact that Swedish Tessa also knows Australian Tessa, and is aware of the confusion their identical names causes amongst their circle of friends. And it becomes even more hilarious when you tell [insert friend’s name] and [insert boyfriend’s name] about it. Once you’ve spread the story of your idiocy around, everyone chuckles like they do in 1950s sitcoms, and you all share an ice cream float at the local diner, wearing bobby socks, poodle skirts, and letter jackets.

Thus, no one is embarrassed, least of all you.


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