What’s the Name on Your Driver’s License and How Did You Get It

[Bob] Polly and I took drivers exams. We both went in together. I went and passed it in. She was there half an hour longer than I was and then I got a better mark than she did.

[Polly] Well, I almost didn’t pass it. I mean you could only fail three questions. And I’d been driving all these years.

[Lee] We could fail six.

[Ken] I got exactly the limit and I passed, but. . . .

[Polly] That’s what I did, too, Ken. And I’m thinking this is terrible! But my problem—I don’t know whether this is yours—but my problem at that time anyway was they were sort of trick questions. At least I was wondering if they were trick questions. And so how do you deal with them?

[Bob] Well, the first one was: “Male or female?” She couldn’t figure that one out.

[Polly] Oh, shush.

[Bob] That was a trick question.

[Polly] After that it was all done. Oh, he’s so bad. I’m not going to go home with you.

[Bob] Well, it’s like—we had a friend that worked in Children’s Hospital in Pittsburg and she was telling us the names of the kids. One of them was named. You know, they had “male” and “female.” And she pushed “yes” and then they wanted to know the name and she said, “Well, Femalé.” And so she called her child Femalé because she didn’t understand what “female” was. “Cigar Butts.” “Case of Beer.” Unbelievable names.

[Ken] Actual names?

[Bob] Actual names.

[Ken] Who did that?

[Bob] The parents of children just born in the hospital at Pittsburg.

[Ken] At Pittsburg?

[Bob] Yeah. Children’s.

[Lee] Sort of poor people, I suppose.

[Bob] Poor people.

[Polly] They really weren’t probably able to read.

[Bob] No, they didn’t understand.

[Polly] They picked names that. . . .

[Bob] Well, look at all the names; we never saw these names before.

[Ken] I had a lot of imagination. I did most of the naming for some reason. Ruth [?] was not very good with it. I had “John” and “James.”

[Bob] Oh, that was creative! Very creative!

[Polly] Really imaginative!

[Bob] Well, in our case, Polly and I had an agreement: I would name the boys and she would name the girls. And so we got to three boys. Then we got this Korean daughter and in their culture the paternal grandfather names the child. They had three girls, so I got to name three boys and three girls. Wasn’t that pretty good, huh?

One of them, we were going to name her “Joy,” but she said, “Oh, Daddy, you can’t name her ‘Joy.’ You’ve forgotten my last name,” which is Jo: J-O. And she said, “We couldn’t have a girl named Joy Jo.”

partial transcription of a conversation between Bob and Polly (his wife), Virginia (Lee’s daughter), and Lee and Ken (Lee’s second husband) during a visit to California in January 2004, courtesy of Virginia Gorman (Lee’s daughter)

Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.).

  • What was Ken’s first wife’s name? I think I heard “Ruth,” but I’m unclear.
  • When was JiYoung’s not-Joy daughter born?

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