Today before work I was in the checkout line at the grocery store. As I was standing there waiting, a rack of keychains caught me eye. They were the kind with names on them, so naturally I began scanning them for ones that said Ashley or Elias. As I was doing this, the guy in front of me, a giant, hulking brute of a black man, started looking for one that said Rachel, for his wife. "Aha," he exclaimed when he found it. I found one that said Ashley, and said, "Here's one with Ashley on it. That's my name," I clarified.
"Your name is Ashley?" He inquired, incredulous.
"Yup," I replied.
"Do you actually go by that name? You introduce yourself as Ashley?"
"Well, yeah," I said with a resigned smile. "Mostle people just call me Ash though." At this point the cashier, who had apparantly been listening to our exchange, said "Yeah, that's a lot better." The big black guy then asked what my middle name was, and I told him that it was Howard. He mulled that over for a few seconds and then said, "Well, at least your middle name is ok. I ain't never heard of no boy being named Ashley." He seemed genuinely perplexed, and even a little concerned for my predicament of having such an unfortunate name thrust upon me. I was about to reply when he suddenly began to backpeddle, saying that he hoped he hadn't offended me.
"Nah, it's ok. Don't worry about it, I'm used to it. Heard it a hundred times," I said to the guy. After he checked out he went back to the keychain rack and mumbled, "I wonder if they have Ernie..."
I proceeded to the register and checked out. As I was exiting the store, the guy called to me, "At least your name isn't Ernie. I hate my name!" I laughed and laughed. He had a point. A giant, hulking brute of a man - especially if he's black - has no business being named Ernie.