‘Middle Namers’… What the heck is their problem anyway?


There are a whole bunch of people wandering around ignoring their first names, and using their middle names instead! HOW DARE THEY?

If their parents had wanted them to use their middle names instead of their first names, wouldn’t their middle names be their first, and their first names be their middle?

I have a confession to make. My first name isn’t Doug, or more correctly, Douglas. That’s right. I am a fraud. My name is Ralph. Ralph Douglas Alley Jr. to be exact.

Many juniors end up using their middle names to avoid confusion around the house. Others have nicknames. With some names it is easy… Senior members of the house are William, or Robert, while the juniors are Billy, or Bobby. Some kids end up as initials… A.J. and D.J. seem to be very popular.

My mother decided to call me Doug. Her reasons were many, and that should have no bearing on this. To my mother, and everybody that knew me I was Doug. If I was naughty, it was Douglas. To some friends and family, I was, and in some cases to this day still am, Dougie.

From kindergarten all the way up to my service in The United States Air Force, I was R. Douglas Alley Jr. Few people ever questioned it.

If paperwork was filled out, the person wrote in the first name box, “R.”. In the middle name box, they wrote “Douglas”. It was as simple as that!

Then came the computer age. Computer forms had boxes for a first name, and then a middle initial. That complicated things a bit!

Some folks would input “R. Douglas” in the first name slot, and leave the middle name box empty. Some folks simply put an “R” in the first name box, and a “D” in the middle name box. Others decided to take it upon themselves to change my name to “Douglas R. Alley”

According to  http://www.middlenamers.com/ssa-policy/  in 2005 The Social Security Administration decided to make it a matter of policy that people use the full name given on their birth certificates, ignoring many state laws that define a person’s legal name as the name he/she uses daily, and is recognized by.

Some of you might be wondering what the big deal is? Perhaps we middle namers should just stop making trouble for ourselves, and fill out documents like everybody else does. First name, middle initial, last name.

I suppose that is all well and good, but as I am filling out paperwork with a receptionist, and this happens more often than not, I will be asked “Full name?” and I will respond, “Ralph Douglas Alley Jr, but I use my middle name, and prefer to be called Doug”. The receptionist moves on to the next question, “OK Ralph, what is your date of birth?”

REALLY???? I JUST told you I prefer to be called Doug, and STILL you call me Ralph? This happens in person, and on the phone. Mail gets sent to me by my first name. I was once even told by somebody from The State Of Maine, that if I wanted to be called “Doug” I would need to go to court and get my name legally changed to “R. Doug Alley”.

Funny though, because according to http://www.middlenamers.com/definitions/

“Other courts upheld the middle name as the forename essential to legal identification of persons known by their middle name:

• When an attorney insisted that a victim must be identified with her first forename rather than the middle name by which she was known, Maine’s Supreme Court said, “The name is for the identification of the person and to distinguish one from another. It would be absurd to require the use of the name not commonly and generally in use in preference to the one commonly and generally used” (State v. Peterson, 70 Me 216 [1879]).”

What’s more, its not just common folk like me who go by our middle names!  There are even well known celebrities like:
Thomas Sean Connery
Robyn Rihanna Fenty
John William Ferrell
Christopher Ashton Kutcher
Walter Bruce Willis
William Bradley Pitt

There are authors, billionaires, athletes, lawyers, and politicians, like:
M. Lincoln Schuster (co-founder of Simon & Schuster)
E. Annie Proulx (Pulitzer-Prize winning novelist)
L. Ron Hubbard (Founder of Scientology)
J. Robert Oppenheimer (Dir. of the Manhattan Project)
J. Paul Getty (one of the first billionaires)
H. Ross Perot (Presidential candidate)
E. Victor Seixas (50’s tennis champ, winner of Wimbledon and US National)

And even our 28th, and 30th Presidents of the United States, J. Calvin Coolidge, and T. Woodrow Wilson!

Are YOU a middle namer? middlenamers.com  encourages us all to write to Congress for fair treatment!


Doug Alley

About Doug Alley

I grew up in Bath, Maine in an upper lower class family with 3 step sisters, a step brother, and a little sister. After high school I spent 3 years serving in the USAF at Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage AK. I've competed in, and won, demolition derbies. I've competed in, and never won, stock car races. I am the 47-year-old father of an 11-year-old boy who is pretty sure he is smarter than I ever was. We live on a little less than an acre of land in a 1973 mobile home in Stetson with my wife Jen, some cats, a few chickens, and rabbits, and a couple of goats. I hunt, fish, camp out, dabble in photography, gardening, and I cook in variable degrees of near success.