When I was a kid, I never met anyone with my name. (You might want to check out my post about how my parents chose my name, too, just click here.) There didn’t seem to be many Jeff’s in the news, either. The only reason I knew there were other Jeff’s out there is because of those displays with personalized keychains. I’d rub the Jeff keychain between my fingers and think, I know you’re out there, Jeff … I always thought it would be fun to have a friend named Jeff.
By the time I was in middle school, another Jeff appeared in the sixth grade. We didn’t have much in common, though. In fact, the only thing I remember about him is that he had a very conspicuous retainer.
In high school, there were a few other Jeff’s, but they were older. I occasionally spoke to Jeff R. in Geometry, but our paths didn’t cross much outside of class–although our vertical angles were always congruent. (I actually got to know Jeff a little better when we were in a play together during my freshman year of college. He was a nice guy; I hope he’s doing well.)
In the mid 1990s, my friend Tim told me, “You should meet my friend Jeff in Atlanta. You two have a lot in common.” I didn’t really know how to respond to his comment. I mean, it’s one thing to go bowling with a mutual friend; it’s another to try to meet someone 800 miles away for lunch to determine if you both have a passion for science fiction movies from ‘50s, so I’d just nod at Tim and change the subject.
A year or so later, Tim told me that he was driving to Atlanta to visit his friend Jeff for his birthday. He asked if I wanted to tag along. Normally, I would have declined, but I had recently bemoaned to a co-worker that I never traveled and I needed to remedy that. So, Tim and I left Dallas right after work on Friday and drove all-night to Atlanta and I finally met the other Jeff.
Jeff and I had a lot in common: We were both middle children, both the only sons, both had been D.J.‘s at our college radio stations, both liked photography, and both had the same name. It was a pleasant surprise, because it’s not everyday that you meet someone simpatico. I gave Jeff the nickname “2 F’s” since I was Jef with “1 F” and we kept in touch.
About a year later, I felt like my professional and personal life had become stagnant. Since I had lived in Texas all of my life, I sensed that it was time to move some place with better job opportunities and fresh faces. I considered New York and Los Angeles, but they both seemed daunting. I recalled how much I liked Atlanta when I visited the previous summer. Atlanta seemed similar enough to Dallas to feel comfortable, yet different enough to allow some opportunity for personal growth, and since I already knew someone there, the idea of moving began to seem less scary. I got excited.
I moved to Atlanta and found a better job, made more money, and started doing all sorts of new things, like rock climbing and joining a screenwriting group. I also had the opportunity to get to know Jeff better, and one day I realized that wish I had while standing in front of the personalized keychains had come true–I had Jeff for a friend!
Okay, this is where it starts to get weird: A few years after I moved to Georgia, I moved in with Jeff when he bought a larger house in the city. I went from knowing no other Jeffs, to befriending a Jeff, to living with a Jeff. By that time, I’d also met Jeff’s best friend from Canada. His name? Jeff! Over the next few months, we met our neighbors–Jeff and Jeff. Suddenly, it seemed like I was surrounded by Jeff’s. But then one neighbor Jeff. moved, and I told 2 F’s, “You know, it kind of saddens me that we’re one Jeff down on the block.
“Don’t be,” Jeff said. “I met the new neighbors next door.”
“What are their names?” I asked.
“Britney and Jeff,” he said.
“You’re kidding …”
If someone had written a story with this many Jeff’s, I would have told me that it was too coincidental and unbelievable, yet here I am, smack in the middle of a sea of Jeff’s. Therefore, when I was brainstorming names for my blog, a friend suggested that I should focus on something that is unique about myself, hence, Cult of Jef was born.
What is one unusual aspect of your own life?