This is my first time joining the all the wonderful who participate in Mama Kat's Writers' Workshop - I hope to make this a regular habit! Wish me luck!
This week, I picked the following prompt: What's in YOUR name? What does it mean? Why was it given to you?
Funny you should ask. My name is Elizabeth. That's my given name. It's the name my mother, for one reason or another, decided to give me upon my exciting birth. If I remember correctly, if I was a boy, I was going to be an Andrew.
But I wound up being an Elizabeth. A name destined to be shortened. How many Elizabeths do you know that actually go by the full name? How many toddlers can manage to spit that name out?
My sister, who's ten years older than me, decided on the day I was brought home from the hospital that I ought to be called Beth. The way the story is told, she called me Beth for the first month or so of my life. My mother didn't like the name Beth. Somehow, my mother came up with the nickname Betsy. They loved the name. Thought it was the cutest thing ever. I remember despising the name...pretty much all of my life.
Do I look like a Betsy? I don't think so..
In first grade, I told Miss Mayer, my teacher, that I didn't like the name Betsy. Didn't like it one bit. She suggested that I try the name Liz. It stuck. At least outside of my household, it stuck. My family never liked the name, and to this very day, they still call me Betsy. A name that makes me feel like one of two undesirable things: a cow or a six-year-old. Problem with Liz is that people tended to make up mean nicknames around the name - Lizard, Thin Lizzy (which was the total opposite of what I was), and so forth. I didn't really love that name either. Then again, whenever some of the mean kids in school learned that I'd once been called Betsy, the teasing grew to a feverish pitch, calling me Betsy the Cow (apparently there was a famous Betsy the Cow at some point) and Betsy-Wetsy, amongst other things.
It wasn't until college and then when I began my professional career that I returned to using the name my mother first gave me - Elizabeth. I like the name, for the most part. It sounds classy. It makes me think of Elizabeth Taylor, so in a way, it's a little glamorous feeling to me. Liz just doesn't quite feel like me, though I can't quite explain it. My husband and many of my longterm friends still call me Liz, and that's okay, I suppose - it's better than Betsy, that's for damn sure. I imagine I will spend the rest of my life going by all three of the names I've possessed throughout my twenty-nine years.
Funny story about the whole Betsy thing - I did a breast cancer walk with some friends of mine last year, and my husband came with us. He managed to chat up one of my friends, and told her, for whatever reason, that my family calls me Betsy. This wasn't really public knowledge with some of my friends, prior to that. It wasn't that I didn't want them to know, it was more that it just hadn't come up. One thing led to another, and she teased him about his having told a secret of mine. That drove me crazy, and I demanded he tell me what "secret" he told her. After much physical violence and silly threats from me, he confessed, and it became a big, silly thing to laugh about. I guess, in a way, I've come to terms with the name, but I still cringe a little when I hear my mother say it. I probably always will.
Needless to say, when my son was born, I agonized about naming him. I had spreadsheets full of names and the initials those names would lead to, along with possible nicknames. I didn't want him to teased for some silly nickname of his name, so he has a name that's pretty difficult to create a nickname for.