Well-meaning folks often call me "Jim," but I always politely correct them: I go by "James." (Salespeople and ministers do this most often, but so do a lot of folks who are just trying to be friendly.) Perhaps it is a bit of formality in my personality, but I have a couple of other good reasons for prefering "James."
First, I am the fourth in a long line of people named "James." In fact, I'm the fifth out of the last six generations in my family:
James Smiley BohananOf these, my father (III) is still alive, and I remember Sr. and Jr. quite well. (My grandfather being killed by cigarettes only a few years ago.) If I had a son, he would not be named James, by the way. This was practically a condition of my marriage to Pamela.
George Smiley Bohanan
James Kezar Bohanan, Sr.
James Kezar Bohanan, Jr.
James Kezar Bohanan, III
James Kezar Bohanan, IV
When I was a youngster in northern Virginia, my great-grandfather went by "Keys" (after our middle name). My grandfather - at 6'4" - was "Big Jimmy." My father, was "Little Jimmy" - only 6'3". Inevitably, I was "Baby Jimmy." As soon as I realized that going by "James" could get me out of this, I started insisting on it, and I've never gone back.
When I got married, Pamela wanted to keep her own name, a position I supported. I wanted us both to have the same name, so we adopted what was a fairly common compromise in the 1980s - we both hyphenated. I achieved this without a court order, by using the name consistently and challenging any institution that hesitated to let me use it. I am not sure I would recommend this choice to everyone, though: it took a lot of effort.
The combination of a suffixed and hyphenated name resulted in a peculiar technical problem. I did not feel that the following name was appropriate:
James Kezar Hayes-Bohanan, IVMy reason for not using this name is that it implies that I am the fourth person named "James Kezar Hayes-Bohanan," and as far as I know, the name is unique. I therefore decided to move the "IV" (said "the fourth") into the inside of my name, because only the "James Kezar" part had been repeated.
Thus my name is:
James Kezar IV Hayes-BohananTo get this printed on my master's degree, I had to appeal to the registrar at Miami University, because I had applied to the school before I was married. To get this printed on my doctoral degree, I had to appeal to the registrar at the University of Arizona and work directly with the computer programmer responsible for printing degrees!
Once I earned my doctorate, my name is officially either
Dr. James Kezar IV Hayes-BohananI hope I have not created too much confusion. A person with whom I was doing business recently exclaimed "He has so many names, I don't know what to call him!"
James Kezar IV Hayes-Bohanan, Ph.D.
I understand his confusion. Just call me "James," but if you call me "Jim," I can still be your friend!