This is what’s in a name

I was born with an unusual name. It’s not an uncommon word, but it was spelled differently so teachers mispronounced it.

I hated the way kids and some adults felt they had to make a comment when they were introduced to me.

Often people would say, “That’s your name?” which was always followed by “Where are you from?” or “What nationality are you?”

I was from here, same as Jennifer and Suzy.

Once, in elementary school, I was getting a drink at the fountain and a boy I had a crush on said loudly, “See that girl? Her name is  (insert name here.)” The boys laughed and I cried.

I started trying to get people to call me different names at age 3. I was Rose, Mary, Linda and Dianne. At age 10 I found one that fit, and it’s my legal name today.

I had a normal name for 13 years, and then I married a man with a last name people giggle at. It was destiny, I guess.

My children are great sports.

Last week my daughter performed in a concert. There were thousands in the theater.

The woman to my left said, “Look at this kid’s name.”

Her son looked at her finger on the program and read my daughter’s name aloud. They tittered.

I imagined identifying myself, which made my ears hot and my heart pound. I am a great big chickenpants.

An hour later my daughter’s group took the stage.

The woman said, “Here comes that kid with the funny name.”

The boy said her name. This was my chance.

I turned to her and said, “That’s my daughter.” My heart was thudding and I was breathing funny. I’m not cut out for confrontation.


“The child you’re laughing at.” I faked calm.


What? “No,” I said my last name.

She effected a puzzled face. “We were talking about Chivus.”

She’s insulting me with denial now?

I didn’t respond. She turned toward her son, put an arm around him and kissed his hair.

I debated telling the children what happened, but I can’t have a story inside me and not tell it.

They took it well. They asked, “Where was she from?”

Here, obviously, but I wish I had asked her anyway. Meow.

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7 Responses to “This is what’s in a name”

  1. Mike Says:

    LOL! Good for you for exercising the confrontation muscle even if they were laughing at that other kid with the funny name. I think I’d forgotten how funny a name D. left you with…it grows on you with time, I guess.

    The way the story comes back to the “Where was she from?” question is great; I love it when that works out. Dave Barry seems to manage this kind of recapitulation nearly every time at the end of his columns, but he is not dependent on any actual facts. I would overuse this sort of punchline to the point of annoyance if I could manage to think of ways to bring things full circle every time.

  2. Mike Houser Says:

    I still like to laugh when I say that name. What am I missing here?

  3. gunky Says:

    i’ve always loved your given name.
    how do you ‘splain the original and lovely and hardtospellifyou’reamoron names you’ve given your own children?
    regardless, i’ve topped you and your mom with my daughter’s name!

  4. T. Says:

    you have a point. what’s wrong with us?

  5. Naming babies is dangerous « Stories O' Mine Says:

    […] babies is dangerous By T. As you may remember, I was born with a terrible name that inspired comments from adults and teasing from the mean little people at my elementary school […]

  6. Rhonda Says:

    I would have punched her for you. I love Carlisle’s name.

  7. Naming babies is dangerous « Stories O' Mine Says:

    […] you may remember, I was born with a terrible name that inspired comments from adults and teasing from the mean little people at my elementary school […]

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