What’s in a name? 71



View Profile

I bet this post creates some hateful angst. Just remember it is tongue in cheek. We were all given a name at birth, some are better than others. Apologies to all Kelvins, Colins, Denises and Craigs out there, but some names evoke an innate kind of response, according to the sort of mental and social conditioning you have received through knowing others of that name. Kelvins and Colins make me think of beige knitted cardigans, while Denise is just downright prissy and namby pamby. I was always glad that my mother gave me the name Karen Theresa. She also passed on thick ankles and a duck-like walk which was very prevalent in her genetic makeup as it also repeated itself in subsequent births. Anyway. I like my name. Even the various derivatives – Hatch (don’t ask me where that came from) and Carrot Trees (Karen Theresa, go figure!). My eldest sister Rosemary was called Meme, and my other older sister Sue was called Kitty Bluit. My little sister Deb was called Midge.

Now the cosiness and familiarity of these names was part of our family ritual. Most families have these rituals. My father, Brian Patrick was renamed Peter and was called that till the day he died. Mum, whose real name was Ada Rose (Ada, Grandma? What were you thinking?). She was alternatively known as Rosie.

Names evolve usually as a derivative of the real name, or because of a physical resemblance to something or someone. My daughter Hannah looked like a little chicken when she pouted her lips as a baby. Her dad called her Chookie as a result. Also his ‘little ray of sunshine’. I still call her Chookie to this day, and when she is her usual efficient multi-skilling self, I call her Super Chook. My son Benjamin was known as Benj, Benjie (he hates that) and Beej. His friends call him Jonesy, and I have been recognised by some of his peers as Jonesie’s mother. My grandson Noah is known alternatively as Noki (this happens when you text Noah in a text message), Noki poki or the Nokster.

I have even extended it to my cat. Her name is Grace Jones (and no, she is not black nor a good singer) but I call her – wait for it, cheesy and all, “The Princess of the Dawn”. This is because she comes in and wakes me early to put food in her bowl.

Usually created from affection, even the name ‘bitch’ can be O.K. if said by a loved friend who is feeling put out because you saw the bargain Oroton bag at the garage sale before her. We can grow into our names. Surnames may change according to marital status, but Christian names are usually something we keep forever. Some may change their perfectly ordinary name. Christine’s have become Christina’s and other Karens have evolved into Karyns. Names hold us together, they identify us, they are legal collateral, and they can be said ways which are chastising or loving. Any name, said in a low, urgent French accent is compelling. We can also grow out of them. We embellish them with double barrelled surnames to impress, we shorten them when necessary. Names define us.

So, all of you beige cardiganned Kelvins and Colins out there, prove me wrong. Tell me that really you are lead singers in a garage band or that you snort cocaine chopped with a gold Amex card from golden toilet cisterns through rolled up one hundred dollar notes. Are you your name, or is your name you?

Karen Jones

Born in New Zealand, Karen now happily lives in the mid-north coast of New South Wales. She retired early due to ill health and now focuses on her love of walking, writing, reading and spending time with her grandchildren. With a degree in writing, Karen became a blogger and book reviewer for Starts at 60, which has enabled her passions to become enjoyable pastimes. Her recipe for bliss is a well made flat white, a friendly cat and a sea view.

  1. My name is Raylene, when I asked my mother how she chose my name, she said after having 4 boys she thought another was on its way. I was to be Raymond after my father, so that’s how my name came to be. I am known as Rayls by many.

    1 REPLY
    • I accidentally hooked onto your Facebook page and love the learning institution you attended.

  2. Hey mine is loretta …. ( I used to get Loretta young ) movie star ..lol no shorten name here !! Ur called a name u keep it !, I’ve never liked shortened names !! I’ve got a good Freind named Denise she isn’t prissy … Raised 4 boys …

  3. We called our son Anthony because we like Tony, but he was Squark until he started school then Boy and now Mate never got to the Tony bit and he is 40. All his friends call him Tony.

  4. One of the hardest things as an ex teacher was to choose names for our kids . Some names bring back some not so good memories although I never found a child I couldn’t find something nice about.

  5. Oh, there’s a long story to how I came to be known as Christine. I won’t bore you with the details. I’ve always detested being called Chris, and yet my (now ex)husband for some reason refused to call me Christine. I worked with a Chris who hated being called Christine, so in our office if someone said ‘Chris’ she looked up, and if someone said ‘Christine’ I looked up.
    BTW my new husband’s name is Christopher, known to one and all as Chris. So .. Chris and Christine.

  6. Karen here, sorry to upset people, it’s tongue in cheek. Probably someone dislikes my name. Gosh my mum nearly called me Mavis. Have met some wonderful Denise’s. Shouldn’t let one experience color them all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *