It’s 10:38 AM, September 24th. I was born on April Fools’ Day in 1963. Hold the laughter and the ‘That
explains everything!’ comments. I’ve heard it all before. I’m sure my Mom did everything she could to
have me arrive on March 31st, but, apparently, hard-headed me wasn’t budging! April Fools’ Day used
to be the least popular day to get married! Imagine sending out wedding invitations to your
friends. They would think you were playing some kind of joke! Sadly, 9/11 has trumped my birthday as
the least popular day to get married. Nobody wants to share their special day with a tragedy or a
comedy. I guess it seems people must be more into dramas. At my birth, I was christened Hector
(after my Dad) Alfredo (after my Mom’s dad) Cuellar. My Dad told me that I had a proud name and I never wanted
to do anything to disparage it! Like I knew what that meant. Then my Mom and Dad promptly
nicknamed me Freddy (short for Alfredo, which eventually would turn into Fred as I grew older) so there
would be no confusion in the house between the two Hectors. I was Freddy, the April Fools’ baby! Come
to think of it, it’s a miracle that I managed to get anywhere with that kind of moniker to lead me
through life. As a kid, I dreamt about having a name like everyone else. Why couldn’t I be a John or
a Mike or even a Stan? As a kid I wanted to blend in with the crowd, not stand out. The nail that sticks
out gets hammered! As a kid I tried to look for role models that were named Fred or Freddy, and all
I got was Fred Flintstone in the 60’s and Freddie Prince from Chico and the Man in the 70’s who later
committed suicide. Great! That left me with Fred Flintstone. Now, all I needed was a friend named Barney!
Recently, I started wondering how popular the name Fred is. I certainly don’t run into a lot of Freds.
If you do a Google search on ‘Fred’, you’ll promptly be relegated to Fred Thompson, the presidential
candidate. A Fred in the White House! That would be cool! But let’s be honest. Nobody is going to put a
Fred in the White House. He may have the voice, but he won’t be running our country. If you go to
the Social Security Administration (http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/) you can do a search for how
popular your name is today, yesterday or over 100 years ago! I typed in ‘Fred’, pressed go,
and Fred was nowhere to be found in 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004 or 2003! I didn’t show up in the top 1000
baby names until 2002 where I barely scraped in at 878! When I typed in Waldo (because everybody has
been looking for that fella for a year and a day) I found that he had been kicked out of the top 1000
in 1943 with an unbelievable coincidental rank of 878 also! Just like me! Pretty soon there are going
to be ‘Where’s Fred’ books instead of ‘Where’s Waldo’ books! But now is not a time to panic. As I
continued my search into my own popularity, I found at petsname.net I was extremely popular! Out of
9132 pet names, Fred ranked in the top 2%! Fred had not been in the top 2% of human names since the
1880’s! Why was I good enough to be named after man’s best friend but not good enough for a man?
Life is certainly confusing. The one thing I can tell you is this, nobody forgets my name. For that
matter, once someone knows my birthday, they don’t forget that either. I am not forgettable! That’s a
pretty good goal for anybody. Heck, would I really want to be named after a toilet?
Talk to you next time!
Hector Alfredo Cuellar