What’s in a name?

My name isn’t a very common one. I have rarely encountered anyone with the same one. When I asked my mom why she gave me that name, she had no real answer. According to Howmanyofme.com, Clifford is the 330th most popular male name in the country, with 190,729 others sharing it with me. So when I hear someone say “Clifford,” it usually means that they’re talking to (or about) me.

When I shot the University of the Pacific women’s soccer home opener against the Sac State Hornets at A.A. Stagg Memorial Stadium in Stockton last week I heard my name called several times. I turned and looked through the crowd in the stands, but there seemed to be no one beckoning me to come. I went back to shooting the game but then I would hear my name again, look up, only to see no one who was talking to me. It happened several times, and after a while I thought, “Should I be paranoid that someone was talking about me behind my back?” Or perhaps I was losing my mind and the voices I heard were just in my head.

Then I saw someone walking around in a big red plush dog suit, and I realized what was going on. Clifford the Big Red Dog, the children’s character created by Norman Bridwell in 1963, was on hand to greet little kids who attended the game. I remember having Clifford books when I was a kid and how fun it was to have a famous fictional character with the same name.

So, with my sanity intact and my mind at ease, I was able to ignore the mentioning of my name and continued to shoot the game.

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