To me my name is different. To my parents, it was an excuse to not name me after a character from Thomas the Tank Engine. Cooper by itself means “barrel maker”. You can’t find it on a water bottle or keychain at a gift shop. One of my least favorite places is the void of sorrow in between Connor and Corey. “Maybe in the next gift shop Coop.” It is forgotten, like the pink properties in monopoly or third the Manning brother (ironically his name is Cooper). My family always uses my name when we go out to eat as it is easy to hear across a crowded restaurant. It’s also easy to hear your angry soccer coach yell “Coopah” in a brittish accent across the soccer field. To me my name is a challenge to the norm, but one that is cast aside.
As a whole, Cooper McCarthy Caviness sounds successful and confident. The articulation of each syllable sounds good off the tongue. My mom described it as a good baseball name along the likes of Brock Holt, Mickey Mantle or Buster Posey. My name has been directly used in a novel. According to the author, it rolled of the tongue well.
Cooper rhymes with super, duper, ice-cream scooper and pooper just to name a few. If I had a dollar for every time someone in elementary school called me Cooper the super duper pooper scooper, I would be living comfortably in a trendy apartment in New York city. It may seem funny, but it is a serious misfortune for your name to rhyme with poop in first grade. Over the years of trauma, I’ve come to terms with my alter-ego, Pooper Crappiness, just don’t call me Coopy.
There’s No Crying in Baseball
Why am I so stupid? I didn’t mean to hurt his feeling but everytime I repeat in my head what I said it makes me cringe more like a fork scratching against a plate. I had a million excuses to make me seem better. “I didn’t think he was in the dugout.” or “I was just frustrated that we lost.” Baseball makes me feel like my heroes and in my last year of little league, the younger kids look up to me. I’ve never felt this way. Every time a parent asks “Who’s son is that?!” it makes me feel like I can be great at what makes me feel great. Every time that ball lands over the fence and I trot around the bags, I forget about everything that makes me sad. But it’s not easy for other people. It’s not like that for him. The look on his face after I said that put everything into perspective. My mom says that I was brave to apologize to him so quick but I still don’t feel good. It didn’t feel right when I put my arm on his shoulder. It felt fake. “Aside from the first five batters in the lineup, we suck.” “Yeah you’re right Cooper, we carry the team.” It makes me sick everytime I say it out loud. Especially when I remember his face concealing the tears. How was I so arrogant? Why was I so stupid?
I hate being the youngest. Every year I watch the people I look up too leave for a better life, they fly away from their nest never to be seen again. The distant memories of toasting marshmallows at block parties or playing Mario Kart with the people I love become faded every year, their colors bleached by magnified expectations of getting older. What I’d give to go back five or so years, back when nothing mattered. With every passing summer, there is one less person to hang out with, one less story, one less laugh. “Didn’t you hear, he’s off to UMass Amherst, his graduation party is in a couple weeks.” “Man, they just grow up so fast.” Trust me I know.
I wonder if they ever think of me? Was I just too little to make an impact on their life? Do they miss me like how I miss them? I never understood why they acted like they didn’t like me when they got older. Why did she choose to stay inside on a snow day? Was it her “homework” or was she just too old to judge our snow-fort contest or make snow angels in the street with us. How could anyone pass up on hot chocolate after a snowball fight or building the biggest snowman in the world. But it turns out I was too little to understand the responsibilities of getting older. “Sorry Coop I’d love to hang out with you but I got like five tests to study for, but don’t get it wrong I really want to, maybe tomorrow we can.” I stopped asking my sister to hang out with me because I already knew she couldn’t. There is no possible way I’m ever going to get old and boring when I go to high school like they did. At least I hope not.