Friday, December 12, 2008

A Runaway Train

This year, my darling Big Brother and sister-in-law, have orchestrated a family reunion trip to Disney World for the holidays. By family reunion, I do not mean the "greats" and "seconds". I mean the grandparents (MJ and Pop), the siblings (Big Brother, Little Brother*term used loosely because they both tower over me, et moi), the spouses (Sister #1 - "Louanne", Sister #2 - "Tammy" , and Fire Daddy), and the little squirts (Big Girl, Little Girl and Curly Cuz -who belongs to Little Brother and Tammy, and is the same age as Big Girl, 5).


That's how I started this post yesterday morning. However, the inspiration has faded...I'll tell more about that little excursion later. Another time, another post. Instead, a tiny detail within that paragaph caught my eye......Anyone up for a ride on a runaway train? I'm rollin' with it!

Speaking of Louanne and Tammy...those are not their real names. As I was running to the restroom yesterday for the upteenth time (started the day with a Venti Skinny Vanilla Latte with an extra shot of espresso, quickly followed with a Large Sweet Tea from Mickey D's), the subject of nicknames entered my mind. My sister Tammy is desperately trying to dub me "Jens". I'm not sure why, apparently she thinks it fits. Do I mind? Not at all. In fact, I'm a big fan of nicknames.

In the past, I've been referred to as "Jen-nay" (the Forrest Gump years), "Honeydew" (or some other fruit...old boyfriend), "Jen Mama" (best friend), my middle name alone for some folks, my last name alone seems to stick for others, and "Princess" (a man at my school's current name for me). Then there's the parental nicknames of "Pumpkin" and "Lizardabeth" or just "Lizard". Not to mention the original nickname -- "Jenn". Funny, my parents did not start that. A friend did. Consequently, when my sister Louanne met me, I think she thought I didn't like "Jenny". She made visible efforts to always refer to me as "Jenn", apologizing if she slipped and called me by my first name.

In the end, I don't mind. I didn't even mind when folks stretched my name and spoke it like poor ol' Forrest. Nicknames don't bother me -- well, within reason. I can't say I loved it when my father-in-law called me "Hippo" for a short time. But, I also realize he was just pullin' my pigtails.

There is one name I do mind. Jennifer. Allow me to publicly proclaim this now.

My name is NOT Jennifer.

Just because MOST parents name their child Jennifer and call them Jenny, does NOT mean I am a Jennifer.

My Birth Certificate clearly states that my name is Jenny. J-E-N-N-Y. That's all.

Get over it folks.

Please do not call me Jennifer.

I must say, over the years, believe it or not, I have mellowed about this...a little. For instance, there is one teacher at my school that comes to mind. She is convinced, I know, that I am Jennifer. I know this, because she calls me Jennifer in the middle of sentences ALL THE TIME.

"I'm telling you, Jennifer, you should hear........"

I am not so rude, anymore, to correct her. I'm waiting, patiently and politely, for an appropriate moment to sweetly explain, "By the way. I don't mean to be rude, so please don't take this the wrong way, but..." and then apologize profusely.

I did this last year -- in an email -- with a different teacher at my school. I'm afraid she thought I was snapping at her, despite my prefacing the correction with disclaimers and following up with apologies.

What has the world come to? I recall a time in the 6th grade when I blatantly argued with a teacher -- with the whole class as my witness -- that my name WAS NOT Jennifer.

T: Jennifer.....blah blah blah....
Me: (silence)
T: Jennifer!
Me: Are you talking to me?
T: I said "Jennifer"...
Me: My name's not Jennifer. It's Jenny.
T: Yes. But, it's really Jennifer.
Me: No. It's really Jenny.
T: Yes, but your parents really named you Jennifer and you like to be called Jenny.
Me: No. My parents really named me Jenny and I go by Jenny. It's on my Birth Certificate. Would you like to see it?

What a smartie pants. I think back on that day and am embarrassed at how rude I was to that adult. However, I also think about some of the fifth graders I work with, and the sixth graders I worked with years ago, and realize I wasn't that far off the norm for my age. They're pretty bold, folks.

For all those Jennifers out there, I'm sorry. It's nothing personal, nothing against the name, but I have grown to hate that name. I promise - I don't mean it personally. I've had dozens of friends -- good friends, best friends, friends I've loved, friends I've wanted to be more like -- named Jennifer. Apparently, Jennys, Jennifers, and Jens gravitate toward each other. They also gravitate towards Kims and Kimberlys, but that's another post.

Just don't call ME Jennifer.

Whew. I feel better.

Thanks for listening.

As for Louanne and Tammy? Those are, yes my family's weird, their "Country Music Names". I wasn't present on the day they were dubbed, but as I understand it, Country Music Names are derived, somehow, from the second letter in your first name. ???

.....Ellie? Emmylou?

What would yours be?


  1. That's ok, J-e-n-n-y! Hey, at least you didn't get stuck with Alice! Alice? Are you kidding me!?!? Talk about name issues! Oh, and thanks for spelling it with a "y". I don't know what I'd do if it was -ie, or -i. ;)~

  2. LOL. I'm a firm believer in colleagues knowing your name (and using it). If you don't want to correct her, maybe another colleague could? Didn't know the country music name rule...Heidi? Hannah?

  3. Alice - Actually, the spelling of my name could be its own post. Would you believe that my grandmother actually spelled my name with an -ie instead of -y for YEARS??? She actually even had a pillowcase made for me with the -ie spelling on it!
    Cheryl - I haven't thought of the other colleague idea. I'll have to think on a way to work that...good thinking. As far as YOUR name...How about Hildi? :)

  4. I have always had a similar issue with my name. It's ELIZABETH - the whole shabang. Not Liz, Beth, Bethie, Lizzie, etc. Good for your for correcting people when they call you Jennifer :-)

  5. I remember making the same mistake, once only once you corrected me and you never called me Debbie either. It sucks having to defend that, but I understand how bad it can wear on your nerves

  6. E is a hard letter to work with. Most of the names I can think of starting with E have a pretty nice ring to them. I guess Emmylou sounds pretty country, but I think we can do better if we give the matter a little research. Which is what I'll be doing for the next thirty minutes...
    Thanks. I'll get back to you, JENS.

  7. Hmmm... now giving your new nickname a thought. I'll have it by the time we return from break. :)

    I can relate. Birth certificate says Suzanne but only two people in my whole life ever called me Suzanne--my Second Grade teacher and my Paternal Grandmother. I was Suzy to those closest and began disliking it in middle school, so I began putting my name on paper as Sue and it stuck. Sue McNeil sounded ok to me. Fast forward to married life when my last name changed to Shall. Can you imagine Sue Shall? Brings to mind, Suzy sells seashells by the seashore, doesn't it? During my interview at Chets and the founding principal said, "You don't look like a Sue to me." She introduced me to the staff in October as Suzanne and it has been such since. It only took me a few months to get used to, and, a name I once shuttered when called has become a dear friend. Now, I shutter when my husband sometimes slips and introduces me as Suzy. Funny how it all changed.


Care to comment? Be my guest! Just remember, be classy -- not too sassy! (My young fans may be reading!)

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