Monday, December 31, 2007

What's in a name?

The "e" on my name tag is falling off.

As part of the culture in the hospital where I work, we are all supposed to be on a first-name basis, which means wearing big you-want-fries-with-that name tags. My "e" is slightly askew and being kept in place by a little bit of tape and the magnet that holds the whole thing together. Based on where the crack is, if it fully falls off my name will look like BROOKI. I might just keep it and insist that people pronounce it brook-EYE.

I come from a family of beautiful names. My grandmother, my mother, my sister -- all lovely, lyrical names. I wanted one too, particularly when my first name and maiden name were both one-syllable -- it all felt terribly German drill instructor. I've only recently come to appreciate having a slightly less than every day name, despite having worked with 3 Pattys and 3 Jennifers simultaneously, when I was going through the interview part of blood donation several years ago. The intake nurse, between asking me if I'd had sex with a man who'd had sex with a man in Africa and whether or not I was an IV drug user, offered up this nugget: "Is this really your first name? It's really weird." I assured her that it was, so we went on to when I'd last taken aspirin and if I'd been incarcerated, when she pipes up with: "You ever think about changing it? You might want to." This, the woman who was about to jab me with a needle. I was pleased to realize I was offended.

I have a friend/co-worker with a lovely English family name as her first name. She is gorgeous and perfectly southern, and it seems to fit her. It is spelled exactly as it is pronounced -- it is long but not complicated. She is asked about her name every single day, at least once. It is mangled in transcriptions and phone messages and most comically by her brain-injured patients. Yet she legally changed it from her middle name to her first name when she got married.

So, what's in a name? Does it really matter? I don't know, but I can tell you why I've never seen 9 1/2 Weeks ... I can't get these guys straight in my head.

Happy new year!

No comments: