10 October 2008

By Any Other Name

Do you ever wonder what you would be like, who you'd become if you were given a different name at birth? Me neither. But it crossed my mind the other day for some reason.

Sandra is a rather random name. And, until effing Grease, we sort of flew under the radar. My only saving grace was having Ann for my middle name (same as mom's). My mother never gave me a satisfying answer as to why she named me Sandra. I was grateful for her decision, though, when I found out the other two contenders were April (for the month I was born) or Patricia (as in Nixon). Sweet baby Jeebus. If my mother took drugs, those options might have made sense. My father said he agreed to Sandra Ann because he had grand plans to call me Sam. Seems he couldn't talk my mother into Samantha.

I've never met an April that wasn't blonde. I'm not blonde. Well, I was for a bit when I was about six months old. I don't think April would really fit who I am. If I were named April, I have a sneaking suspicion I'd be expected to be perky all the time. Perhaps I'd perfect my cartwheel and join the rah-rah squad. That's just a guess, though. I suppose we'll never know.

I have lots of friends with the name Patricia. Including a cousin. I guess the question big is: Would I be a Pat, Patti, Tricia, Trish or Tish? With my ass, I'd likely be Tush. But, if my mother kept my middle name the same, I might be Pam.

What would Pam or Tricia Miller be up to today? I suspect she'd have a couple of kids and would be running against the long-seated PTA president, pissing off the other mothers on her cul-de-sac. Eschewing minivans and CC&Rs, miserable in Small Town USA (I have a feeling Pam/Tricia would have remained in the Santa Clarita Valley), gagging on beige stucco.

For a long time, I was Sandi. It was the shortened name my grandfather gave me. Very, very, very few people can get away with calling me that today. Very few. I recommend that you don't go there. Back then, only my classmates and grandfather called me that. My mother hated it. She, who almost named me April or Patricia. Please. When I was heading into my sophomore year of high school, two other Sandis came into my punky crowd. They were nice enough, but a tad more "quirky" than I was. And not the kind of "quirks" I wanted to be confused with. I went back to using my given name. Hard to do when a hundred people were in the habit of Sandi.

Sandra Miller is a very common name. You many not think so, but my hometown gyno had three of us. There, I had to give my name and birthdate to book an appointment. About eight years ago, I started getting lien notices for another Sandra Miller who failed to pay her taxes. I called the IRS in a panic. Didn't they see that the Sandra Miller at my address paid her taxes and had a different SSN? "We just try everyone," the nice lady explained. She then suggested I use my full name for professional and tax paying purposes. As I've said before, going by my full name is prevention, not pretension. But, to keep it simple, you can call me SAM, if you'd like.

What's in a name? Does it shape who you are? I don't know. I'm just happy my middle name isn't Dee.


Andrea said...

Wow- I have a neighbor named April and she IS perky ALL of the time! Lucky for me, she's perky in that "ray of sunshine" sort of way and not the "rah rah, gonna shove a pompom down her throat" sort of way. ;)

Maggie, Dammit said...

See, my parents WERE taking the pot, so my middle name is Snow.

And I was supposed to be Amanda. Amanda, dammit? Not quite the same ring.