Will the real John Garcia please stand up





“There seems to be a lot of us out there”





You have heard the phrase, “Will the real John Garcia please stand up.” These four Garcias have been doing that for decades. They are happy to have the name and proud that their names represent family, culture and knowing that their name will carry on for generations to come.



BY JOE ARCE AND COREY CRABLE


If you have a common name, you know how it goes – you’re sitting in a crowded room, and you hear someone call out your name.


“Hey! John Garcia!”

“Yes?” you answer – along with one or maybe even two others.


For four men named John Garcia, who recently enjoyed a gathering in Kansas City, it’s a problem as common as the name with which they were born. Don’t mistake them for someone named Juan, they caution – they were born John, the Americanized version.


According to behindthename.com, ‘John,’ meaning ‘to be gracious,’ appears in the Bible as the character John the Baptist, “considered to be the forerunner of Jesus,” as well as the apostle John. The name exploded in popularity throughout Europe starting in the 13th century, maintaining its popularity around the world until the 20th century. In the United States, it was the most popular name for boys until 1923. According to the same website, the surname ‘Garcia’ is the most common last name in Spain, and it is the second most common last name in Mexico. In the past 20 years, ‘Garcia’ has ranked among the top 10 most common last names in the U.S.


John Nicholas Garcia of Kansas City welcomed his cousin, John Garcia of Riverside, CA, to town, where they and two others sat down with KC Hispanic News to talk about their names.


Johnny Nick and Nicholas CA are three months apart in age, and both say they are happy to spend time together.


“Our fathers were brothers,” says Johnny Nick, who calls his last name ‘the Mexican version of Smith.’ “We were never around each other very much.”


Nicholas KC says he has enjoyed introducing his cousin around town.


“I find it funny. In my community, I’m well known. When I play basketball, I’m known as Johnny Nick. My cousin (has been saying), ‘Man, everywhere you go, you know somebody.’ That’s what I like about it -- being able to introduce myself as John Garcia.”


Nicholas CA says he’s enjoyed his trip so far, and that he‘s seen lots of what Kansas City has to offer.


“I’m having a blast,” he says. “It’s such a good time, to be here in Kansas City. … I like to see the expressions on people’s faces when we tell them our names.”


Johnny Nick’s son is also John Garcia – though the younger Garcia goes by ‘Porge’ to his family.


“His grandpa named him after Ed Sullivan’s mascot, who was a mouse – he had big ears,” Johnny Nick explains.


Porge says that most people simply call him by his nickname.


“Everybody knows my dad. He’s the first one they attach me to. They’re like, ‘Is he the t-shirt guy?’”


Porge says, referring to the t-shirts that proudly announces his name. “Growing up, everybody knows me as Porge. Some people don’t even know my name is John to begin with.” Porge says that when he meets someone new, they “always try to connect the dots” to determine exactly which John Garcia they’ve met.


“People will try to connect the dots. ‘Which John Garcia are you? There’s one who lived on Bellevue, one on Madison…’” he laughs. “It’s a common name, but each one of us has our own qualities.”


John F. Garcia – the F. stands for Frederick – lives in North Kansas City, and though he is unrelated to the other three John Garcias, he says his name has caused some confusion throughout his life.


“I’ve run into many John Garcias in my lifetime. There was a girl who worked at a bank, and she came to inform me that my dad had passed, but I said, ‘Wrong John Garcia.’ … We worked at a different bank, but she thought it was me,” Frederick recalls. “She said she was so sorry, and I thanked her for coming.”


Frederick named his late son ‘John Paul Garcia,’ in part because he says he was a big fan of The Beatles.


“People were saying, ‘All you need are two more sons – George and Ringo,’” he jokes.


Though his son died in 2010, Frederick says his grandson carries the name ‘John Paul Garcia,’ too, much to his grandfather’s delight.


Porge says that although their name can create confusion, he and his family members still have fun with it.


“Although your name is really popular, it helps break the ice,” he says. “It’s really cool.”