Like Father, Like Son

I don’t have quite enough energy to write about yesterday’s race, but today provided some good alternative material.

I’ll start at the very beginning. My father’s name is Randy Michael Miller, and in an attempt to be clever upon birthing my nine-pound carcass, my parents decided to give me a unique name. Rather than just make me a “Junior,” they awkwardly hacked one syllable off my dad’s first and middle names, and called me Rand Micah Miller. Well…not quite: I was actually named Graham Lee Miller, in honor of my mother’s maiden name (Gramley), but about five minutes after they wrote it on the birth certificate they changed their minds and scribbled it out. Not only were my parents disgustingly “clever,” but they were indecisive. I’ve been left to clean up their mess for my entire life, constantly called “Randy,” “Randall,” “Grant,” “Brand,” “Rod,” “Rayd,” and “Rickets” instead of my given name. [Yes. I’ve gotten Rayd and Brand, as if those are more common than Rand. And yes, I was called Rickets for quite some time, though I never had the disease.]

As you may know by now, I’m a chemist of sorts; fittingly, my father is also a chemistry professor. In spite of what you might imagine, my current career path was not influenced by my his profession, at least not directly; I chose to become a scientist myself, though the propensity to do so may be genetic.

So, what does all of that have to do with today?

The American Chemical Society’s National Meeting took place today at the Moscone Center in downtown San Francisco. Being chemists, my dad and I both attended the meeting, which was a fun collision of my family life and professional life. The best moment came as I was sitting next to my dad in one of the day’s talks. One of my coworkers–who was attending the conference and had been sitting a few rows ahead of us–noticed me (and my dad). She waved at us, tapped another colleague of mine on the shoulder, pointed at us and mouthed, “that looks like his dad!” They giggled for a moment, trying not to make noise in the crowded auditorium; it was heartwarming. I guess we look alike, and apparently the resemblance inspires laughter. Awesome.

After the talk, I introduced my father to several of my lab-mates, at which point one of them pointed to his name tag and said, “Haha! His name is Randy!” That’s when I was forced to tell the story of how my (probably drunk) parents decided to name me Rand. They all got a good laugh at my expense.

Anyway, I just got home from dinner with my dad and several of his undergraduate students who had presented their research this afternoon. It was absolutely adorable to see the interaction between these students and my dad. They poked fun at him, but only in the most reverent manner; they addressed him as “Dr.” or “Professor”; they even told some good stories from his classes. Apparently my dad has the same sense of humor as I do…at least around college kids. It’s cute, if a bit disturbing.

After dinner, I suggested that we head to one of my favorite Potrero Hill bars for a quick pint and a game of darts.

Three games later, I’m home. Like father, like son.

3 responses to “Like Father, Like Son

  1. You should see how many vowels *my* parents dropped when picking my name! I was going to be Ueynaeuiouew. Yes, sometimes “w” is a vowel.

    Say hello to your folks for me. It was always good to see them at our races.


  2. “Elis” is a bastardized combination of my grandmother’s names. And I answer to everything from “Allison” to “Phyllis.”

  3. Interesting that two of the ~five blogs I read on a daily basis are written by fellow odd-four-letter-namers. Leon…the story about how you got your name is even better than mine.

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