What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet

Growing up in the States in the 1970s, I had a unique name which I daresay I shared with nobody on the entire Eastern Seaboard, the South, and All Points West.  It was truncated into a nickname that shared only one letter with the original but which stuck with me until I graduated from high school.  In college, I did what most every college student does: shed the old me and remake myself.  This metamorphosis included growing my hair long, no longer acting the wallflower, and demanding that everyone either learn my real name or don’t bother talking to me.  It took a while before I got a patter that worked to explain how exactly to pronounce my name.  I’ve softened my automatic flinching reaction when someone butchers my name (“Tarsheem?”  “Dazeen?”  “Christine?”).  I even relish the fact that some acquaintances cannot pronounce it because it means that I don’t have to remember their names either.  For those who show interest, I take the time to spell it out (“T” as in “terrific,” “A” as in “awesome,” “S” as in “super” . . .) and if they deserve extra credit points for paying attention, I give them the meaning too (“it’s the fountain in heaven where those closest to God drink.”)  When someone calls on the phone and stumbles over my name, I instantly know that they are a telemarketer and can honestly say that “nobody by that name lives here.”  *click*

It is true that rich and not-so-rich alike have been dipping into the well of unique, exotic, and pretentious names to stand apart from the rest.  Some borrow from others as ZP’s co-worker’s mothers did when they named their daughter “Moxi” after one of the mother’s students named Moxila.  Some liked the sound of the name before they discovered that the majority of women named “Electra” in this country are strippers. But nothing prepared me for the melange of monikers that made up the class roster at ZP’s school.  Ditto for the cornucopia of names at his friend’s Montessori school.  Can you figure out which is which?

Exhibit One: Mika, Teddy, Mar, Oona, Pau, Chukwuebuka, Timi and Tobi (who are abbreviated from what are possibly Ethiopian names *at least* four times as long), Ayesha, Medha, and the requisite complement of Connors, Emmas, Madelines, Emilys, Mayas, and Sophias. And one MollyGrace.

Exhibit Two: Keondre, Raymello, Giacomo, Francesca, Coltrane, Mohammed, Zamar, Gabriella, Giovanni, Anna Lucia, Makai, Destinee, Delia, Xavier, Burnice (a boy), Peyton (a girl), Devyn, Davon, and Divanni.

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2 responses to “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet

  1. Oh man, I missed my window to be called by my own name in college! Why didn’t I do that? My friends and colleagues call me by at least three different names. It gets weird when I’m introducing myself to someone in front of someone else who knows me by one of the other two variations. (Note that I always introduce myself the same way, but once they’ve seen it written down, people make their own choice.) But I have the opposite problem you do: When someone not related to me calls me by my real name, it throws me off and makes me automatically think that we must be closer than we are. On the other hand, I’m with you on the telemarketing thing. It’s super-handy.

    I occasionally think of “rebranding,” but it seems like it’s too late. Should I just legally change my name to Gojira and be done with it?

    Also, Coltrane is an excellent name. And Raymello is adorable.

  2. and by “friends and colleagues” you really are referring to the same person, right?

    i have legally changed my name to “Baji” in all respects but one. just haven’t made it down to the courthouse yet.

    coltrane is a big hit with the teachers. at least, his name is called out in loud volumes every day after school. raymello sounds like a candy bar.

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