What’s in a Name?
The name Sahud has been with me for a long time; approximately since the day I was born. I don’t understand why people find it so confusing. Why there must be hundreds of New York Jews of Russian heritage with Arabic names, who love Italians – in Wanaque Reserve alone. Why all the fuss? For years my wife was bombarded by the question “What is the origin of your name?”
She always answered, “My grandmother was born in England and my grandfather was born in Poland”. It took a while to convince her that nobody gives a damn about her maiden name (Levy); they are only interested in her married name (Sahud).
The simple answer that our family came from Odessa in the Ukraine was usually followed by, “But Sahud isn’t a Russian name”.
That got me thinking. Where did this silly name come from? Are my family members the only Sahuds in the world? Was Grandma raped by marauding Arab nomads? I heard that our name might have originally been SAUD, with the H added by the usually confused immigration officers at Ellis Island. If that were true I would have heard from my Saudi relatives by now (or at least a goat for Christmas).
In high school, the legend under my yearbook picture read, “Though on the subject he’s had kiddin, friendly Dave’s no kin to Ibn.” It’s true that the Life Magazine cover picture of King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia looked exactly like my Great Uncle Moses. But don’t all Semites look alike?
My only pangs of sentiment regarding the name came when I crossed the Allenby Bridge from Jordan into Israel on a vacation trip. The lady in Israel Customs greeted me with, “Let us hope that our people will find peace with your people very soon”. At first I thought this was a reference to the Jewish tradition that says “When you get two Jews together you get at least three opinions”. Then the significance of my name dawned on me, and I hastened to deny any Arab ancestry.
Just for self-enlightenment, I did a search of Sahud on Google about ten-years ago. I found my cousin Dr. Mervin, Director and Founder of the Blood Research Institute in San Francisco, and his many offspring and ex-wives. It’s a commentary on our “closely-knit” family, that I found no basis for communications since then. There were more Sahuds than I expected on Google, but I felt no kinship with any of them.
1) The Southeast Asian Central Bank lists a Sarimah Sahud, Clerical officer. *Could this be my long lost Uncle Sar?)
2) The Chinese herbal paper on respiration is authored by Ries, CA Sahud (Could sly old Grandma Sahud have been messing around with a Chinese paramour in Odessa?)
3) An Aida Sahud is Associated Professor of Nursing in Holy Name College (C’mon now; no Sahud was born or conceived at either La Scala or the Met).
4) If you want to stay at the BK Guest House in Phucket (please use the mixed company pronunciation) Thailand, you must first contact Kuhn Sahud (I am sure he is a great guy, but I was too sick from bad curry to call him when I was there).
5) Wallaby’s Sahud Del Flamente is the great grandsire of Arimakis Azumet; both of whom I suspect are in the canine family. I checked the family tree again and only found one suspicious male relative – lifting his leg against it.
It is sad that our illustrious name will disappear in two generations because only female offspring will remain. There must be a place in the world for the Sahud name. Many less worthy names have endured because of their popular associations.
Why should Doctors A. Alzheimer (1964-1915) and James Parkinson (1755-1824) go down in history for having described illnesses that have only gained prominence in the last 50 years? I could probably make up an illness, name it after myself and promise an epidemic in the year 2100. Or I could latch the Sahud name to generic ailments like hangnails, rashes, or acid reflux.
It may be petty, but it bothers me that so many names have been glorified for the ages, while mine lies unfulfilled. Why should “Meniere” be associated with both a filet of sole and a “malfunctioning of the semi-circular canal of the inner ear”? Was Montezuma thrilled at having a “Revenge” named after him? Hasn’t Charley Chaplin had enough notoriety without having bone contusions or leg cramps named after him as “Charley Horses?” It’s just not fair!
There are undeserved name associations in science as well. I could never compete with Haley’s Comet, Tessler coils, Doppler effects, or Einstein’s Theory of Relativity (Which I still don’t understand). We were poor Russian immigrants who barely knew how to flush a toilet. It is ludicrous to think that we could have invented anything. Geographical sites are out also, because no Sahud would ever be caught in strange places. We did not design the Eiffel Tower, nor did we jog on the Lewis and Clark Trail. No Sahud took his straight edge and traced the Mason-Dixon Line. And I don’t recall a Sahud being buried in Grant’s Tomb (unless he fell in while digging). It’s frustrating to watch a bunch of opportunists sieve available geography for self-aggrandizement.
What else could bear the name of Sahud with dignity? William Morris had his char. Lord Raglan had his sleeve (of course he had the benefit of membership in the House of Lords). Lord Raglan must have been quite bitter that the Earl of Cardigan had a whole sweater named after him. Even Adam, an orphan, ate a forbidden apple and was honored with the name of a male body part. While Maynard Keynes was credited for his economic theory, my philosophy of “Buy high; sell low”, was ignored.
Why would a male stripper restaurant name themselves after Thomas Chippendale, and English cabinet maker? Bowie had his knife, Davy Jones had his locker (before he joined the Monkees) and Henry Barnes even had a method of crossing streets named after him. How about a Sahud Walk-against traffic?
Since the name Sahud does not slide gracefully over the tongue, perhaps alliteration should be part of our opportunity for immortality. How about the Sahud Sleigh? No, the name Rosebud preceded us in Citizen Kane. The Sahud Sewer offers no dignity. After considering the Sahud Scramble (could be eggs or quarterbacks), the Sahud Shakedown (Jewish Mafia only) and the Sahud Shuttle (from Poughkeepsie to Istanbul), I am running out of ideas.
Perhaps Pulte would build a fictitious retirement community in the fictitious city of Sahud (near Orca) on the Gulf of Sahud, called “Sahud by The Sea.” I might even audition for the part in the next Wanaque Follies. However, just in case my name becomes too famous, I will have to use a stage name. “Hi! My name is Clark Kent and I am a Russian Jew with an Arabic name who loves Italia