The Things You Do

The History of Your Name

Dear Xander,

I Not Monkey Tay!

Just before you turned 3, your parents had a tendency to compare your disobedient, uncooperative self to the behaviour of a monkey. Your mother, in particular, would ask you if your name was Monkey Tay (among other personality disorders evidenced in the audio recording above) instead of Xander Tay whenever you misbehaved, to which your response would always be an angry “NO, I AM NOT MONKEY. I AM XANDER!” (I should, at this point, extend my apologies to our primate cousins for such a discriminatory remark, in case one day scientific progress allows the events documented in the various Planet of the Apes to become reality, and a monkey should inadvertently chance upon this blog post and take offence.)

It got me to thinking we probably did right by choosing this name for you since you like it so much as to happily (or, in this case, angrily) take full ownership of it. Your dad never felt the same way about his own name for a long time (particularly my Chinese name, because it sounds like a girl’s name, and many times in my youth friends used it to indicate I was “full and round”). So in the hopes of giving you a much better idea of how we chose your name (both English and Chinese), I hereby present you with The History of Your Name.

We didn’t actually firm up the decision on your name until maybe half a day after you were born, but we did come up with some ideas which I documented in my own blog. Your name is taken from not 1, but 2 fictional characters of the time:

  • Xander Harris from the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer circa 1997-2003
  • Xander Cage from the movie xXx circa 2002

The Buffy character was my favourite from the series, for his quick wit and dry humour. He was also very resilient and able to overcome much diversity such as surviving numerous vampire fights, living with a demon girlfriend and not getting into college (that last one I’m hoping you don’t follow in your namesake’s footsteps).

Xander Cage was played by Vin Diesel, your mother’s all-time favourite musclebound hairless actor with the sexy deep voice. I’m planning on putting up the movie banner in your room to commemorate this fact.

We also chose the initial “X” because it is believed to be the most marketable letter of our time. Notable examples include, the X-men, Xena: Warrior Princess, Windows XP and more recently, The X-Factor.

It was your Chinese name that gave us a bit of a problem. We finally settled on giving you a single-character name, and initially we were going to go for “义”, transliterated as “justice” (not to mention it’s got an X in it), but just to be sure, we sought the professional advice of former local Mandarin pop singer turned frozen dim sum distributor Ken Tay (郑展伦; look it up). The entire process – done over SMS – went something like:

Me: “Hi Ken, would like some advice on choosing my kid’s Chinese name. Is ‘义’ okay?”

Ken: “A single character name?”

Me: “Yep.”

Ken: “Too literal, how about ‘宇’ (yu: universe)?”

Me: “Cool, thanks.”

And thus, your Chinese name was officially endorsed by an 90’s celebrity.

Your aunt, my 3rd sister, who also thought of using 宇 before Ken came along, said we could play around with your dialect name and name you after a video game console; hence, Tay Wii. Unfortunately, we couldn’t reach Nintendo for a sponsorship agreement on that decision.

And that, my boy, is the story of your name; the culmination of 4 uber-famous entities centered around the marketability of a single alphabetical character.

Love, Dad


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