#AtoZChallenge: P is for Pacheco (Plus Random Thoughts on Names)

photo credit: Geonosis Trooper via photopin (license)

My name and I made one bettor some green one Super Bowl Sunday.

PI worked at the Hilton for Super Bowl XLII, between the yet unbeaten New England Patriots and New York Giants in 2008. A boisterous man, upon check-in, clapped his meaty hands together – Gator style, although I don’t know where he matriculated – when he saw my nametag.

“I’ve been wanting to bet on the Giants all day!” he broke his happy white-boy clapping to say. “Your name is Eli? This is a sign! I’m betting on the G-men!”

Hours later, the Giants, a 12-point underdog, pulled of a classic upset.

What would this guy have done if I’d been named as my family tradition stated? Every generation, a boy is named Florencio or Teodoro. My father was Teodoro, so I’d have been Florencio – had my parents not been hippies who named me after a Three Dog Night song.

I’ve always been the only Eli in class, and got to playtime quickly when we learned to write our names in kindergarten. E-L-I … sweet! Time to play Mouse Trap. I always felt bad for my friend Rudolph, who stuck around twice as long. Why didn’t he just write R-U-D-Y?

Some mysteries will never be solved.

Pachecos love their Mexican roots (and grub)

Our last name is Portuguese, although the most culture we still foster from that heritage is …

Well, nothing. We do plenty in line with our Mexican roots, from cascarones to tamales to tanning easily. My kids are half white. Asked to name the heritage they most identified with, they answered like this:

ELISE | Hispanic

MARIE | White

GRACE | Mixed

Now, that’s a mixed bag.

Turns out the ancient surname from Portugal became a heredity surname in Spain. Still, we hardly even eat black beans, let alone paella.. A Roman general named Vivio Pacieco was decended from Lucio Viminio Pacieco, who served under Julius Caesar.

Yeah, that Julius Caesar!

Other notable Pachecos in history:

FERDIE PACHECO | He’s the Fight Doctor. Men of a certain baby boomer age would call me the Fight Doctor as a nickname. He served as corner man for a dude named Muhammad Ali.

[Watch Ferdie spar with Don King – then drop F bombs off camera]

JORDAN PACHECO | This baseball player hails from New Mexico, where my father’s people live. He kind of looks like a New Mexican Pacheco. He even played for the Rockies, but now is with the Reds.

[Check out Jordan’s grand slam against the Giants.]

JOHNNY PACHECO | This famous Domincan musician coined the term salsa for the music genre. Cool, huh? Leave it to a Pacheco to be thinking about food.

[Listen to Johnny’s Acuyuye – which means the sugar a woman can bring to a song]

Butchering ‘Pacheco’ on the loud speakers

The sports world has some doozies for names.

Basketballers Scientific Mapp and his brother, Majestic, for instance. Hokie Gajan, the former New Orleans Saints running back turned broadcaster. And can you imagine having to discipline a kid you’ve named God Shamgod?

The sports world will have to learn how to pronounce Pacheco eventually.

For road soccer games, you never know what those girls will be called.

Pacheecho. Pachecho. Puh…(inaudible mumble.)

It’s okay, though. They’re rather be known as other things, such as …

That damn goalie with magnets in her hands! How does she do that?

Watch No. 6! You gotta stay on her!

No. 9! No. 9! I swear she just pushed that girl down!

Yep. Works for us.

(This post by Kim on Protean Mom inspired this.)

name quote



  1. Holly says:

    So wait, how do you pronounce it then?

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      the inaudible one, Holly.

      Kidding. It’s puh-CHEK-oh

  2. stomperdad says:

    I was close. I called ya puh-CHAY-ko… The only question I get about my name is, “Is it Wood or Woods”. Just one Wood. Unlike that golfer dude, Tiger. Amen for #9! That’s mine and my wife’s favorite number (our jersey numbers when we played soccer). We love mexican food, too!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      We’ve gotten that pronunciation too, Eric. I’ve heard of that golfer, I think. Eldrick’s his name, right?

      I like numbers divisible by three, and all three girls happen to have that.

  3. Lyn says:

    I’m a bit like L. M. Montgomery, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Hmmm, not sure I can agree with that either. Imagine the poor twins born to parents with the surname Duhk (pronounced Duck) who called them Donald and Daisy–I kid you not, that happened when my youngest daughter was born. Then there’s the girl my oldest daughter went to school with – Safari Hunt. The guy I worked with…Richard Longbottom.
    Speaking of Mexican food, I had almost Mexican food for breakfast… beans on toast 😀

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Those kids could be part of a dynasty, Lyn. I knew a girl named Happy Cole. And a guy name Gray Banner. That’s cool, when a person’s name is also a noun. Safari Hunt just sounds like the kid you just have to invite to birthday parties. Does beans on toast qualify as Mexican food?

      Maybe if you add a dollop of guac.

      1. Lyn says:

        well, I did say almost Mexican 😀

  4. Anxious Mom says:

    I’m laughing at the Three Dog Night song, because after we found out the gender and announced that LM’s name would be Eli, family and friends sang that song all the time.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I could have had that play when I came to the plate in the big leagues. It was the baseball skill I had a problem with.

  5. You most definitely have risen above al the rest and always will!! 🙂

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I’m no match for Uncle Ferdie, Janine.

  6. Rorybore says:

    I got the boy spelling of my name. That was fun growing up. *eyeroll*
    Then I learned it was actually a CLAN name – from our clans’ CASTLE. Yes, that’s right bitches: Imma Celtic princess, so in yo face!!!

    It also means “calm spirit.” I may have missed that translation by a tad 🙂

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I didn’t know there was gender-specific spelling of your name, Les. I can imagine your hellion ancestors, though. The calm spirit is all the mindfulness you’re bringing into the fold.

      1. Rorybore says:

        Lesley is the “girl” spelling. Mom!!!! LOL

        I need all that mindfulness to counterbalance the teine ​​ann am fuil – that’s Gaelic for “fire in the blood.” Now, that I like. 🙂

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        Much more appropriate for you, Rore. My girls have assigned gender to colors, even. Apparently, purple is a girl color. I get snickered at when I wear it.

  7. Nikki says:

    My two cents: Names are funny things. In my case, I was named Tosha Nichole but from birth was always called Nikki or Nix. Tosha, patched together with my maiden name at the time which was also unusual, caused much angst for me as a kidlet and resulted in many arguments about what I would/would not respond to when called. For a lot of people, I think names give roots (such as your case, Eli) but for me it had the opposite impact. Isn’t it funny how a word can hold so much of our identity?

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Just the concept of the name is odd, Nikki. Remember the Johnny Cash song, A Boy Named Sue?

      Just think if you’d been named differently … would you be commenting here, now?

  8. moonskittles says:

    (oh my.. now I have that song stuck in my head.. thanks 😀 )
    Back to post – loved the post especially the mixed-bag metaphor!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      There are far worse songs to have stuck in your head, Dajena. My kids resemble mixed nuts in a mixed bag.

      1. moonskittles says:

        LOL Eli, yes, I know 🙂

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        I could write a post about 11 songs you’d rather not have stuck in your head! (the tough part would be to limit it to 11.)

      3. moonskittles says:

        🙂 I was not refering to the post though, I was refering to the line you have here, before the reader leaves their comment. 🙂

      4. Eli Pacheco says:

        ohhhhhh! I forgot about that one there. Did you know he says “say what you need to say” 42 times? I counted.

      5. moonskittles says:

        og geez.. nope.. but I am happy to have met someone that is as crazy as I am 😀 😀

      6. Eli Pacheco says:

        I felt a duty to humankind to count.

  9. ksbeth says:

    names are incredibly wonderful, aren’t they, eli? so funny how they take on such a big role in our lives for so many reasons our parents never imagined. i have many kids in my class who change their name to ‘vic’ or ‘wes’ or ‘liz’ once they find out they have to write them out each time. it’s magic math.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      they definitely can be, beth. Grace’s real name has an unusual spelling, and I wish we’d taken that into consideration. Do you think I could have shortened my name to E?

      1. ksbeth says:

        Yes ! And I have named my Holli with an I. Endless issues)

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        it builds character, beth.

  10. Lulu says:

    My last name is a one syllable word that’s found on street signs in just about every town in the English-speaking world (and it’s not road, street, or lane), but it is still mispronounced, misspelled, and bungled all the time. It was even misprinted in my brother’s water polo championship program in college. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be if it was any more challenging to spell or pronounce! You have my empathy! Glad you and your family have such a fun outlook about it. But I guess I couldn’t expect anything less from a descendent of a famous Roman who served under Caesar 😉

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      This feels like a word puzzle I just can’t solve, Lulu. I was on national TV recently for an interview and I think they spelled my name Pacheo on the screen (I got lots of web inquiries for “Eli Pacheo blog” in the days after.)

      Right on Caesar, right? I wonder how accurate that is. It might have been that our descendant served under Julio Caesar Chavez.

  11. mocadeaux says:

    I’m glad that you never had to suffer Harry Caray saying your name.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I’d have considered it an honor, Mo! My dad and I attended a Braves-Cubs game in Atlanta. Harry gave us a rare treat – he sang Take Me Out to the Ballgame with the visiting crowd.

  12. mamarabia says:

    I recently found out that my last name from birth was borrowed about 3-4 generations back. Family that came over to American settled in a town and instead of Americanizing their last name, they just made up a new one based on the name of the town they settled in. Weird, huh?

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Did you guys ever give the name back? Kinda cool that your ancestors just made their own name up, though. If I could do that, I’d make it hard to pronounce, with clicking sounds like they have in some African dialects.

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