Saturday, August 13, 2011

Name Envy

I spent much of my childhood (and adulthood?) envying the names of other girls.

Mine was Kim Hogan. Sounds a bit like pulling up phlegm. Not to disrespect the family name, but I was not reluctant to change my name when I married.

Some girls names sounded like waterfalls (Suzanna), or a soft rain (Marissa). Some were sturdy: Mary, Beth, Donna. Mine felt like a squeak. Kim. Or maybe that’s just the way shy, quiet me said it.

Some names seemed unique to me at the time: Shelby. I quite liked that one. Cydney. Cecilia. These names sounded swirly and happy. I wanted to sound swirly and happy. If I could not sound swirly and happy, then I wanted to sound tough and strong.

My favorite name among the high school girls was Lou Gott. I know now that Lou was short for Louise or Louisa, and, like my name, it sounded like the gathering and/or releasing of phlegm. But I envied that name. It sounded like the name of a girl that would kick the shit if the shit needed to be kicked. It sounded like the name of a girl who would do whatever she wanted. Say whatever she wanted. Screw the consequences. Somebody named Lou Gott could roll with the changes.

Me? I just sat quietly in the corner with my phlegmy name and squeaked it out when necessary.

I guess I could have used my full name, Kimberly. I tried it a couple of times. Sounded like too much. Too big of a name for such a little mouse. People would expect much more of me if I used that name. I was scared of it. I could only squeak out, “Kim.”

Suppose I had been named Ethyl or Sunshine? Gertie or Margot? How different would my life have been?

What about the names of today? Just like fashion, names follow trends. Several months ago, when visiting family in Texas, I went to my niece’s daycare center to pick her up. Along the wall, above the backpacks, each child’s name was perfectly printed. While I will not list any name here for fear of violent repercussion, I will mention that it read like the roster of an Iditarod dog sled team. What will the future hold for these children? Will they proudly hold their up their heads and fear nothing in life? These are names not intended to be squeaked out. These are names to say loudly.

Or will they, like I, wish for a name like Lou Gott?


  1. haha
    i like kim...kimberly ..its BETTER THAN KIMMIE or however you spell that. that is a pissy little whiney name. (no offense to kimmies out there).
    good post :)
    by the way i've always liked my name even though it feels totally unfeminine or womanly. i feel like a goofdork.

  2. My best friend sicne junior high - we're looking back 38 years now - her name is Kim. I've always liked the name:)

    As to some of the names today, especially for the movie stars children, I shudder. For example, I always thought Shiloh was the name for a barn and apple is the name of a fruit (lol).

  3. You may have felt like a mouse back then Kim but you roar like a lion now.....well on this blog anyway!
    I certainly won't want to mess with you...LOL!

    I have always liked my name because there are not many Peggy's in Australia, except quite often people thought my name was Penny.

    When I write stories I often use the name Susan so maybe deep down I wanted to be called Susan.

    Peggy xxxxx

  4. Well, you could have done like I used to do and invent whole (delusional) pseudonymous personalities with exotic names like Christophre :)

  5. I like the name Kim. It belonged to my best friend in school. At least you couldn't be called Suzie Q.