My parents took an enthusiastic approach to naming; ask my sister – she has three middle names. They began with a taste for the
unusual fantastical, which had mercifully tapered to the everyday by the time their fourth child arrived.
I grew up with a very different name from the one I have now. I hated it. Its uniqueness was such that I surmised my parents must have asked all their friends to pick a letter, then swapped and shuffled the order until they came up with something vaguely pronounceable. Just to make sure they included everyone’s contribution, they made it hyphenated. And that was just my first name; my middle one wasn’t great either.
I have never come across another soul, either in person or otherwise, who had the same name as I did. My family moved around a lot and there was always that humiliating moment in a new school, when the teacher would attempt to read aloud my name while introducing me to the class. Their collective stare sought and held me like a prison-tower searchlight. I could sense their awful curiosity, like rubberneckers at a motorway pile-up, as they assessed the bearer of such an unfortunate moniker. I wished the floor would open up and swallow me. When I was nine I actually went through a phase of asking everyone in school to call me Jackie, I thought it was such a cool name! Oh! for something normal!
In my teens I dated a guy who went by the nickname of Boots (waaaay before Dora the Explorer), because of the Doc Martens he wore.
I finally rid myself of my hyphenated horror when I married, using the opportunity given by a change of surname to insert a completely new name on my legal documents. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to legally apply to change your name. You’re free to call yourself whatever you like. The difficulty lies in getting your documents (passport, drivers licence, etc.) changed.
In contrast to my childhood, where nicknames were met with disdain, we sprinkle them like confetti in our house! Some of us have more than one! My son is sometimes Taz, my youngest daughters latest label is Scribble, describing her mop of untameable curls. I might be Chamchi (urdu for “spoon”), Moti (urdu for “chubby” – yes, my husband knows which buttons to push!), or even Donkey, for my ability to do that popping noise with my lips, used by my namesake in Shrek 1 to annoy Shrek & Fiona on their journey to Far Far Away!
So, now it’s your turn to fess up! What do they call you? Have you ever wanted to change your name? Did you go through with it or did something change your mind? Let me know in the comments below, I promise I won’t laugh…