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Your parents give you a lot in life ... love ... warmth ... care ... maybe even the downstairs sofa for your first apartment.

Eventually they're great babysitters, too.

They love to babysit ... as long as they also get to go home after a few hours.

And — oh yes — they give you one other thing in life, too. Like your middle name.

You ever think about middle names?

While there are millions of wonderful first names out there, has anyone ever explained why we need a second first name, too?

Also, have you ever thought what life would be like if suddenly one day, we all went by our middle names instead of our first names?

It'd be chaotic, if not a little bit hilarious.

Like, me.

I am (please try to remain seated) Howard.

That's my middle name.

Look at that picture they run with this column. Do I look like a Howard? There's Howard Stern, and Howie Mandell, and Howard on "Big Bang Theory," and they all serve "Howard" well.

But me, a Howard? 

Or Vince Rauner? He's our new governor. Does he look like a Vince? (But he is, in fact, Bruce Vincent Rauner.)

For the record, he succeeded Joe Quinn (Patrick Joseph Quinn).

Joe Durbin got re-elected, too (U.S. Senator Richard Joseph Durbin), as did Patrick Brady, who you might better know as Dan (Daniel Patrick Brady), the ever-present state representative from Bloomington.

Up in Normal, that's Mayor Carl Koos. He's an alliterative two C'd guy (Christopher Carl Koos).

Out at State Farm, it's Barry Rust who's CEO (Edward Barry Rust).

Tari Renner, mayor of Bloomington? He doesn't have a middle name. "It's all my mom's fault," he will tell you. "She didn't want me to have too long of a name. In fact, she even found a way to spell my first name with only four letters."

At Channel 25? It's Alan McIntyre who gives you the news at night (Thomas Alan McIntyre).

Sitting next to him is Bernard Hall, the sports guy (Lee Hall, officially Bernard Leland Hall). As Bernard explains it, "My mom wanted me to have a saint's name, but also the same initials as my dad, Barney Lee Hall."

Over at Channel 31, that's news anchor Danielle Chandler (Maria), her middle name being "in honor" of her dad. His name is Daniel, she says.

At WJBC is Jonathan Laughlin (Scott) and Eugene Swaney (Dan).

As Illinois State University commiserates after Saturday's FCS national championship game loss in Texas, the nevertheless highly successful coach enjoys a name that just rolls off the tongue in a wonderfully punctual, staccato, two-syllable way — Brock Spack.

If Spack one day instead goes by his middle name,  Dwayne, the punch just wouldn't be there nearly as strong.

"Brad Barker" fits nicely on the back of your Honda but "William Bradford Barker (his entire name) Honda" might sound a bit more regal.

You also can a car at Ed Leman's (Samuel Edward Leman) or Edgar Dennison Ford (Robert).

You might then have your wheels aligned at Guthrie Dooley Tires (Clay) and schedule the rest of your trip at Chatham Davis Travel (Suzi).

Ah, middle names.

Just for fun, we did a little more research ... there's Ralph Earnhardt, Jr. (Dale), ex-Beatle James McCartney (Paul), Vice President Robinette Biden (Joseph), former GOP presidential candidate Willard Romney (Mitt), legendary actor Charles Redford (Robert), NBA star Bean Bryant (Kobe), equally renowned Raymone James (LaBron), actor Mungo Grant (Hugh), actress/comedian/Golden Globes host Elizabeth Fey (her middle name is actually Stamatina, from whence comes Tina), actor Géza Affleck (Ben) and even William Frederick Dempsey George Rufus Sutherland whose first name is Kiefer. Can you imagine signing all that in the little space on the back of your credit card?

There's Diane Clinton, too.

That's nice but not as distinctive as her first name, Hillary, is it?

And then there's Hussein Obama?

If he had gone by his middle name instead of his first, in all honesty, would he have EVER been elected president?

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