Nobody can pronounce our last name unless they know us. It's a fact that I've learned to accept, but it's also a nice ice-breaker sometimes when you can explain the pronunciation using alcohol and salty snacks. My mom even used that for her very own blog, BirrenPretzels.
(The resurgence of Helen Mirren as a famous individual on this side of the Atlantic has helped a little too...depending on the crowd, I can say "like Helen Mirren with a B" and it solves the issue of spelling and sounding out in one fell swoop. Thanks Helen!)
Birren is also a very uncommon name, so I can guarantee if you've ever met a Birren they're related to me somehow. An ambitious lot, a few of them have even gone on to some fame, and because it seemed like a good idea at the time, I Googled the bejesus out of our family name to see what would come up, and have provided many a link to prove that, at least on the internet, we're damn famous folk.
Oh, and if you are, in fact, a Birren, please feel free to comment with any interesting Birreny tidbits you'd like to share with the world...or rather, the 4 people who read this. Hi mom!
- My uncle, Peter, who knows so much about stars that he wrote a book about it. We even have one named for the family! Birren1, natch.
- Faber Birren, who figured out you shouldn't paint hospital walls red. (I'm summing up, and there are a LOT of books out there.)
- Joseph Pierre Birren, arteest. This comes up a lot in our family, lots of artist types... my mom, her dad, her brothers & sisters...plus me of course, the Original Art Hog.
- Nick Birren, screenwriter (I think) and stage actor.
- Jeff Birren, an attorney for the Oakland Raiders. (My cousin Genni is also in the process of becoming a sports attorney. Crazy!)
- Susan Birren, a neurobiologist in California, and Bruce Birren, a molecular biologist at MIT... hey, I *work* for microbiologists AND I have neurological issues! COINCIDENCE??
- This guy, who clearly loves his running shorts, and his lady friend Jenny.
- You can write your autobiography, thanks to a Birren...the same one who started the Gerontological Society!
- You can even get a vending machine from a Birren (if you live in Chicago).
- Slightly stretching, but a fort in Scotland seems to be awfully famous, although reading the descriptions in various places Google led me had me nearly convinced I had lost all grasp of the English language.
- The original Irish people! At least that's how I interpret this. Don't burst my bubble.
- In that same vein of making my name and Irish/Scot fetish work for me, there's also The Birren, a road in Ireland not far from the highest pub in Ireland. Many emails have brought me assurance that this has nothing to do with the last name, but I still want to go someday.
- And last but not least, you can get yourself buried by a Birren.