by any other name


I have a very common first name. Pedestrian, even. No really, it's been in the top ten in the US since WWII. Since I grew up around a bunch of other people with this name (among other reasons), I go by a shortened form of my name. A shortened form that is not really all that common this side of the Atlantic. To make matters more confusing, it is a homophone and its spelling is not readily apparent.

Here's what this is leading up to though: giving my name as restaurants. Whenever I have to put my name on a wait list, I hesitate. For much longer than is normal. Should I give the host(ess) my nick name, even though it usually throws them off and/or launches me into a conversation I'm sick of having? Oh and requires me to spell it and/or suffer a look of “what the...?” Do I give them my given name? If so, do I go with the full version that only my little brother uses or the typical American short form that I was called until I was about 18? In this pause, of course, I start feeling all silly and awkward, because, really, how hard is it to COME UP WITH YOUR OWN NAME?!?!

Of course, I could also use an alias. But, I know I would make a terrible spy, as I've tried the alias thing only to have forgotten the name I gave. It's not so pleasant having someone come up to you and saying, “Excuse me, aren't you the name we've been calling for three minutes?” And that really nails the coffin. Oh, I'm too dumb to even know my own name and then I can't recognize it.

My last name would be an option, but I have this annoying tic of always giving my last name, spelling it, and then giving it again. It comes from my father. Well, obviously my last name comes from my father. But I mean this style of providing it. Specifically from hearing him provide his name over the phone. I guess Philip Larkin is not lying, after all.

So, here's what I'm getting at. If ever I go to dinner with you: take charge. give your name. I've got other neuroses to focus on, thank you very much.


annie said...

i totally spell my old last name with the same intonation and spacing as my mom does on the phone.

Jake Spurlock said...

When I leave my name, I just say Jay. I guess I have a hard time making the "ke" pop out. Maybe you should just try "D"?

daine said...

I feel your pain. I usually just let Amanda give hers.

alea said...

Jake: I suspect I'd forget that I'd given them just my initial. I am, in fact, quite fligthy at times.

daine: Ah, so my solution is to marry someone with a more common name. I'll work on that.

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