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?