Them: What’s your name?
Them: Excuse me?
Me: No, Lan–ning.
Me: No. It’s Lanning – like planning without the “p.”
Them: Oh, Planning without . . . without the what?
Me. Without the “p.”
Them. Haha! That makes it easy to remember.
Them: So that’s your last name?
Mm: No, Lanning is my first name. My last name is Lee. L-e-e.
Them: Oh, so, Lanning is your first name?
Them: Lanning. That’s a very unusual name. I don’t think I’ve ever known a Lanning before.
Me: Really. It’s the name of a character from a series of books by Upton Sinclair.
Them: Sooooo, Planning without the "p." That really makes it easy to remember. Hard to forget that, Planning.
Me: Yes, that’s why I came up with it.
Them: So who is this Up — what did you say the name was?
Me: Upton Sinclair. He’s an author. Have you ever heard of a book about the Chicago meatpacking industry called The Jungle?
Me: Well, that’s the book for which he’s best known. The series he wrote is about a guy named Lanning Budd. He’s the illegitimate son of an American arms dealer and his lover. He grows up knocking around on the French Riviera and becomes a kind of secret agent who affects every significant event in world history over the first half of the 20th Century.
Them: Wow! Sounds really interesting.
Me: He is. He was kind of the James Bond for the generation before Ian Fleming. My mom and her sorority sisters read all of the books, passing them around to each other so they could share all of them.
Them: So your mom really liked this Lanning Budd character or something.
Me: Yes. My dad wanted to call me Jeffrey Lynn after his best friend in the Army. My mom wanted to call me Lanning Christophersen – Christophersen is her maiden name.
Them: So your full name is . . . ?
Me: Lanning Christophersen Lee.
Them: Christophersen. That’s an interesting name too.
Me: It’s Norwegian.
Them: So your mother is Norwegian?
Them: And your dad is . . . ?
Them: And he lost out on the naming contest.
Them: So now you’re Planning without the “p” Christophersen Lee.
Me: Yes. But you can call me Lanny.