Ryan and the Technicolor Wardrobe
Short Stories and Essays

I know a lot of people who won’t date someone that has the same name as one their exes.  It sounds kind of silly and superstitious but I’m in the same boat. Of course I understand that everyone is unique regardless of their name and they should all be given a chance.  I also know that you shouldn’t give someone the power to ruin certain names for you, but I still understand and agree that it’s just too strange.  I’m not saying there will never be an exception to the rule, but at this point, it’s definitely looking that way.  I’m totally trying to not have too many hang ups with my dating life.  It’s complicated enough so maybe I’ll come around.  One thing I’m definitely not willing to ever budge on is dating someone that has the same name as one of my sisters.

Since we are a Korean American family, that means we each have two names: a Korean name and an English name, and since I have 4 sisters, that means that there are 8 names, not just 4, that I will not date.  With most girls in America, I don’t even need to worry about a Korean name, period, so it doesn’t stress me out beyond belief.  Though on one particular occasion, a girl’s name popped up to be the same as my sister’s Korean name, and it only got weirder from there.

I met this girl during my sophomore year of college.  She was a couple of years older than me and we started to hang out pretty regularly.  At one point, a lot of people were asking if we were dating, so inevitably we had to have that super awkward conversation about what we were.  At the time, the buzz word for this was a DTR, which stands for “Define The Relationship”.  I wasn’t sure how she felt, but she asked me if a relationship with her was what I wanted.  At the time, I didn’t want it because I was interested in another girl, one that would eventually rip out my heart and stomp all over it, but it wasn’t because this girl shared a name with one of my sisters.

Hypothetically, if it was, she could’ve argued that since she preferred a nickname version of the name, I wouldn’t have to think of it as the name name.  That, of course would actually makes things more bizarre, because her nickname plus her last name actually is my Korean name, which would mean I would in essence, be dating myself.  Luckily, this part of the conversation never happened, because I had, at least in my opinion, valid reason for not wanting more out of our relationship.  The most valid reason being that I was an immature sophomore in college.

I actually ran into her a few years later at a speed dating event that a friend of a friend had organized.  It was definitely nice to see her again, though I was a little disappointed to see that we were both once again single, 7 years after our little talk.  We kind of skipped the cursory introductions and we decided to catch up since we had fallen out of touch after she had graduated.  She told me that she was planning on moving to Hawaii and I told her that I was starting to write stories.  It’s the only conversation of the night that I remembered, the only one that wasn’t  blur in my memory.  While I don’t think either of us were itching to see if we had made a mistake by staying friends all those years before, it was clear in our conversations that we were headed in different directions and that this chance encounter was not the cosmos trying to give us a second chance.  If anything, it affirmed that I was right all those years before about us not working, regardless of the coincidence with the name.

In all this time since meeting her, I have not been in a dating situation with another girl who’s shared a name, English or Korean with any of my sisters, so perhaps I thought the universe had decided to take pity on me after I turned down this one girl for the right reasons instead of some silly hang up, but I was wrong.  A couple of years later, my parents warned me that if I wanted to date a girl who shared the same last name as me, I’d have to make sure that her family didn’t grow up in the same area of Korea as me, so not only was on the watch for names similar to me or my sisters, but now I had to be on the watch for the same last name as well.  It seems like more work in an already complicated dating landscape, and while my mom says that I can just ask a girl where her family is from as a basic introduction question, I think I’ll just try to keep things as simple as possible.

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