What’s In A Name?

Names are weird. I have always been interested in the usage of people’s names, because they seem like something so unchangeable, yet some people seem surprisingly aloof.
My first name is Amy. For the first year of my life, my parents and family called me Amy, and in fact, it’s embroidered on my Christmas stocking that I still use today. Well, not today because today is not Christmas. Anyway, since I was born in 1980, everyone kept asking my parents if I was named after Amy Carter. Apparently, the frequency of this question annoyed them so much that they just decided to change my name to my middle name.
When my brother was born, one of my dad’s best friends had just had a son they named Ryan. Although my parents had been planning on that name, they didn’t want to look like copycats, so they made Ryan his middle name. Then just kept calling him Ryan. Personally, I like both of our middle names more than our first names, but that could be because that’s what I’m used to.
Justin actually USED to go by his middle name. I started calling him Justin because I thought that was his name, and it stuck.
I am so interested in this because I wonder if it confused me at all as a baby that people suddenly started calling me something completely different in my fundamental stages of development, and I just had to accept that I was now someone else. Or maybe I thought that I got a new name every year, and when I turned 3, I could be Gertrude perhaps. And here’s Justin, living with one name for about 20 years and then suddenly having to respond to something else.
People who find out Amy is my first name delight in calling me Amy for some reason, but I have never gotten used to answering to that. Well, if I’m in the doctor’s office or some other Official Place, I unconsciously have my ears perked for either name.
Then there’s people like Melissa, my old friend Cricket, or my ex-boyfriend Min who came to college and decided to go with their “real” names, confusing the rest of us if we ever came into contact with the other crowd. Melissa’s high school friends call her M.A., and I think they even get angry when they hear people like me calling her Melissa, because clearly she sold out by using her given name.
Then I became an angry high school friend when I found out that Cricket and Min were now going by Christen and Jonathan, two formal-sounding names that did not seem at all like the names of the fun-loving jokesters I had grown up with.
Then there are pronunciations. My family and I pronounce my name Lore-in, which I obviously never minded, but there are some dialects that pronounce it Lah-ren, and as I got older, I found out that I liked the sound of that better. I didn’t want people to change the way they said it (mostly because if you don’t do it right without trying, it sounds weird if you try to force it) but I just liked hearing that way a little more. Then you have people like Joe who pronounced it correctly in the first place, and now call me Loorin to piss me off :)
I was also happy to find out that Justin pronounced my name the way I liked when I first started talking to him online, before I ever heard his voice. We were picking Pokemon that I could be, as any normal 20-year-old does, and he had chosen Laurmander instead of BulbaLaur.
As I said, I never correct people, because it depends on dialect, but sometimes people just plain get names wrong. So many people call Felicia “Fall-ee-see-a” or “Fall-ee-sha,” and it always irritated me because when she introduced herself on stage, oh, 5 times a week or so, she obviously pronounced it the way she wanted to be called — “Fall-ish-a.” I was always astounded that she never corrected people, but I guess it gets annoying after a while.
I don’t know. I guess I do get irritated by people whose names start with six Qs and snottily insist their name is Fred. I remember a girl who I overheard talking to an interviewer at the JET program interviews, and he pronounced her name wrong, but it was one of those ones like A-leash-a or A-lish-a that no one in the world knows how to pronounce anyway, and she snarkily corrected him. I remember thinking at the time, “First, you’re going to see this person for possibly 20 more minutes of your life, and he is a potential employer. Was it really necessary to correct him in that jerk tone?” Sheesh, I was so nervous in that interview, I would have let them call me Emperor Palpatine if that would have gotten me the job.
Finally, on the topic of internet handles, I should point out that I chose my nickname Kitsune after only watching a few anime series. It was a pun on the name of a character from “Love Hina,” and I slowly discovered after a few years that it was a very common nickname. Now it’s kind of embarrassing having the creative equivalent to DragonBallGoku or KawaiPikachu. But I also remember when ArtFag decided to suddenly be Quelyn, and that was hard to get used to. But I guess everyone did, so there may be hope for me someday.

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