Monday, October 5, 2009

"The Name Game"

Playing the "name game" is something nearly every parent goes through.  Despite the amount of thought that goes into the process most of the time, there are some parents who come up with some doozies....including my very own grandparents! 

As I wrote the other day, my mom's mom and dad had 13 children. That's a whole lot of names.  Of the 13 kids, there was a set of twins who were stillborn.  I doubt that they were named, but I'm not sure of that.  If they were named I don't think I ever heard the names chosen.

Sooo, that still left 11 names (22 when you include middle names!) to come up with....certainly more than any parent should have to deal with.  However, there was no way around it.  The government frowns on leaving children unnamed and it causes all kinds of problems for adults.  Can you imagine the embarrassment every time you had to fill out an application form or prove your identity?  "I'm sorry, officer, but I truly do not have a name.  No, really!   I don't know why. Check with my parents."   "Uh huh.  Right!  Sure.   Step away from the vehicle, smart-a**!!"

Anyway, my grandparents joined the vast law-abiding majority and gave each of their children their very own name.

Before I go on, let me clarify a couple of things.  First, all these children were born in the 1920s and 30s, thereby avoiding all of the later, trendy names....not a Kim, Heather, or Madison in the bunch!  Secondly, I never gave it much thought before, but I realize that I don't know the middle names of anyone but my own mother (Lorraine Charlotte -- not bad, right?)  Thirdly, there were no real horrors like Ima Hogg or other disasters.  Fourthly, most of the names were not too bad.

That said, let me give you the list:

Germaine (f)
Thomas (m)
Helen (f)
Carmelita (f)
Mary (f)
Lorraine (f)
Norbert Jr. (m)
Imelda (f)
Annabelle (f)
Gerard (m)
Joseph (m)

See, nothing horrid.  But wait, I haven't mentioned nicknames!  This is where things went seriously downhill for a couple of them.  Want to guess who and what??  Don't bother.  I doubt anyone would get it right.

My Aunt Carmelita was known throughout her lifetime as "Pinkie".  Only in her professional life did she manage to keep Pinkie hidden and use Carmelita (which I'm not sure is that much of an improvement!)

Then there was my Aunt Imelda.  That's not a great name, so a nickname had to be an improvement, right?   Well, no, not so much!This poor woman went through her her entire life being "Mutzie."  This gem, the origin of which I do not know, was pronounced to rhyme with "put-zee", NOT "putt -zee."  As I child, her name would make me laugh.  As a teenager, I was embarrassed for her.  As an adult, I realized she didn't seem to be uncomfortable about her nickname at all.  Now, as a "Senior", I guess that if she really hated it, she probably would have stopped using it.  She didn't.  She was "Mutz" until the day she died.

Both Pinkie and Mutz were in my heart as favorite aunts.  I was very sad when each of them died.  I miss them and I doubt that neither their names nor their nicknames ever kept anyone from loving them, including me.

So in the long run, "the name game" is not that important.  What is important is the person.  After all, as eloquently written by the Bard, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."  As long as it wasn't named "Mutzie."

1 comment:

  1. My grandma is named Charlie Mae, and goes by Kitty. Her sister is named Nell, and goes by Pete. And her other sister is Johnny--and she goes by Johnny.


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