What’s in a Name?

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Have you ever wondered how different your life would be if you’d been given a different name? Say your parents had named you Gertrude instead of Ashley, or that your assigned surname was Kamakowski instead of Bennett, and thus you would have never sat next to that Campbell boy you ended up marrying who was seated beside you alphabetically in ninth grade homeroom? Do you ever ponder these things, or is it just me?I was never one of those kids who hated her name. My mom designated me Kristin Leigh, because she said it sounded like a movie star name should I ever make it to Hollywood and want to drop my family name. Although, I wasn’t always supposed to have been a Kristin. My parents—hippies in San Francisco in the late 70’s—wanted to name me “something earthy, you know, like Lake…or Tree…or Grass.” Thank GOD they went with something normal. Because Grass Luna just doesn’t have the same ring to it, now does it? After they opted for a more normal-sounding name, my mom and dad each made a list of girl names they like and then compared. The only two names they had in common were Kristin and Jessica. Can you imagine me a Jessica??? Not that there’s anything wrong with Jessica—I’ve known quite a few brilliant ones in my years—but it just doesn’t suit me one bit.When I was named Kristin, it wasn’t a popular name. Have you ever stopped to think that you hardly know a Kristin who was born before 1982? Well actually, that thought’s probably never crossed your name unless you do indeed share my name…but now, think about it. Can’t come up with a Kristin over 30, can you? It was a name that kind of just cropped up at the start of my generation, it seems, and a popular one at that. Why, on my third grade basketball team, there were SIX Kristins– well, three were KristEn, the improper spelling of the name, but we won’t hold that against them—on my team of 10. Now, what are the odds of that happening?

And still, as common a name as it is, NO ONE can seem to spell it right. Doctors’ appointments, trips to the hair salon, waiting lists at restaurants, they get creative with the spelling—I’ve gotten everything from Krysten to Christan to Khristyhn, no joke—but never EVER do they get it right. It almost makes me wish I’d been named something simple and easy like Ann, but then inevitably people would be tacking on an “e” to my name for the rest of my life.

While I was always completely fine with my name, I did have some favorites that I would have probably traded for if given the option, and every one of my My Little Ponies bore some combination of that particular handful of names — Elizabeth, being my absolute favorite, with Grace, Emma, Hope, Reagan, all being up there, too. It seemed like everyone I knew growing up had Elizabeth as a middle name, and I was extremely jealous — particularly, since I come from a place where double names run rampant, so you almost always knew someone’s second name.

My friend Jill recently sent me a link to UrbanDictionary.com—the same site I used to try and prove to Scott it’s “SHORT BUS,” not “yellow bus” (because duh, all buses are yellow); it turned out, according to Urban Dictionary, that “yellow bus” is a Bay Area term used interchangeably with “short bus;” I still maintain that I’m right—and she told me to search my name. So I did. The results? Quite spot on, I’d say:

kristin

One of the coolest people you will ever meet. She is always there when you need her. She likes to kiss her guy friends. She got that cashflow. Drives a silver mustang, and don’t take shit from no one.

Ex: “She be fly”, Nah, she be kristin.

That’s right, you heard it: I don’t take no shit from no one. HA. The next one was even better:

kristin

A pathological liar that loves Asians.

Ex: I bet that Kristin is off making Asian babies.

And then the last one:

kristin

a language used by someone who wants sex, used to turn people on.

I’m not even going to give you the example for that one…I mean, who comes up with this stuff? But Scott and I had hours, OK 10 minutes, worth of fun with this thing searching every combination of our names.

What about all of you, did you grow up resenting your name? Was there something you always wished you’d been named instead? I mean, if Hannah Montana can change her government name from Destiny Hope to Miley Ray, what are you doing sitting around wishing you’d been born with a WASP-y label like “Preston Anna Louise Roosevelt III?”

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COMMENTS
  • June 11, 2008
    transienttravels

    My mother named me Susan knowing that I could be Susie growing up and then Susan as an adult if I chose. At work I am Susan, simply becuase I wrote my formal name on my resume and it went from there and to everyone else I am Susie.

    I have two identities.

    Those are some creative spins on your name. The worst that happens to me is people spell Susie with a Z.

  • June 11, 2008
    Heather B.

    My parents named me Heather which was one of the most common names in the 80’s. I think it’s because they wanted me to have to use my first and last name at all times because how else would anyone know exactly which Heather I am?

    It’s fine. Slightly annoying growing up which is how I got to be Heather B. So no, I didn’t make up Heather B. because of my blog (as everyone guesses) I use it because that is my name and what I have gone by since 1992.

    The other interesting thing about my name is that you don’t see or hear of a lot of black people named Heather. So it actually makes it really easy to remember my name once people meet me. Despite my name’s drawbacks it also has it’s pluses.

  • June 11, 2008
    Abby

    I hated my name, Abigail, growing up and always thought it belonged to old ladies. There were no other Abigails in my age group, and the only famous people who had my name were Abigail Adams and Abigail Fillmore, both First Ladies from oh-so-long ago.

    People also misspelled and mispronounced all the time, so I went by “Abby” from elementary to high school. It’s only recently I’ve begun liking my name. It’s actually a popular name right now for baby girls, ranking at #8 during 2007.

  • June 11, 2008
    ChrisC

    I actually AM a Christen born before 1982, but maybe it doesn’t count, since it’s spelled differently? 🙂 I’ve always gone by Chris, anyway, other than in 5th grade, when I suddenly decided for that year only that I wanted to be Christen. I’ve always liked my name, but was annoyed when I was younger that it was so common. (In fact, I’ve dated multiple boy Chrises over the years, and at any given time have always had at least one friend also named Chris or Kris.) Now, though, I’m fine with it. People rarely spell my name correctly, but at least they pretty much always say it right 🙂

  • June 11, 2008
    k

    Kristin Davis (a Kristin over the age of 30).

    I actually had 2 college roommates (at the same time) named Kristin, although one spelled it Cristen and the other Christen (we also have a Katie, Kelly, Katrina, and Regina – say that 5 times fast!)They just went by their last names, and still do.

    I’ve always liked the name Kelly. It is common but I never seemed to run into many in my social circle – until recently. My best grad school friend is named Kelly too. Our friends tried to give use nicknames but it didn’t stick (I don’t know about you but I wasn’t thrilled about the name “Kitchen” – thanks Boston!) and basically we now just both answer when someone calls our name.

  • June 11, 2008
    Ali

    my name is Alicia…which, to me, seems the biggest mistake ever. i’m NOT an Alicia. i don’t feel like an Alicia. i’m an Ali. totally.

  • June 11, 2008
    Kristin

    Kristin, I love that you made this a Blog, especially since I happen to share your name and the correct spelling.
    The Urban Dictionary thing cracked me up particularly the Asian part since I happen to be half.
    And BTW my favorite screw up of spelling and pronunciation was Kierksten!

  • June 11, 2008
    SLynnRo

    I think about this all the time because my name is totally weird and is a serious hindrance to having people take me seriously. I get this ALL THE TIME: Slynnro (blog name, not real)? Your an attorney and your name is Slynnro?

    It is highly annoying.

  • June 11, 2008
    Angela

    (I say “short yellow bus,” but maybe that’s just me??)

    And there’s Kristin Davis! Charlotte from SATC! She’s older!

  • June 11, 2008
    Camels & Chocolate

    OK, OK, you’ve all got me there — how could I forget my fellow Southern belle, Kristin Davis?? And then if we’re talking celebs, there’s also Kristen Chenoweth and Kristin Scott Thomas…however, there are far fewer Kristins from pre-80’s than there are post, I guess was my point!

  • June 11, 2008
    Camels & Chocolate

    OK, OK, you’ve all got me there — how could I forget my fellow Southern belle, Kristin Davis?? And then if we’re talking celebs, there’s also Kristen Chenoweth and Kristin Scott Thomas…however, there are far fewer Kristins from pre-80’s than there are post, I guess was my point!

  • June 11, 2008
    Camels & Chocolate

    OK, OK, you’ve all got me there — how could I forget my fellow Southern belle, Kristin Davis?? And then if we’re talking celebs, there’s also Kristen Chenoweth and Kristin Scott Thomas…however, there are far fewer Kristins from pre-80’s than there are post, I guess was my point!

  • June 12, 2008
    Kristin

    I was hoping that I would make the blog with the fact that we share first and middle names as well as the same initials (well, not initials anymore):) Anyways, I know exactly how you feel. What really drives me crazy now is when I send an email out at work and it has my name spelled correctly in my signature as well as when it comes through telling them who the email is from, and when I get a response back my name is spelled wrong!

    I think because my name has been spelled wrong my whole life I really try to make sure I spell everyone’s name right. Now I don’t even correct people anymore when they spell out me name because it’s not like they will remember it.

  • June 12, 2008
    pinksundrops

    Haha, I’m so urban dictionarying my name right now…

  • June 12, 2008
    pinksundrops

    urbandictionary: R*se is a word used to describe a very independent, beautiful, loving, caring, classy, sophisticated, mature, honest, and loyal girl. She is ambitious, determined in life, and is goal orientated.

    Awesome. There was also involving making babies and girl parts.

  • June 12, 2008
    CageQueen

    When I worked retail people would come up to me all.the.friggin.time and say one of two tings:

    1. That’s my (insert female relative’s name here) but she spells it the GIRL way.

    -or-

    2. That’s my dog’s name!

    Um, yeah, lemme run right home and tell my mom that she chose the wrong spelling for my sex, or that her choices are best left for beasts. LOL. As a young girl I HATED my name but now that I’m grown I am totally head-over-heels in love with my name in no small part because it is unique to my age group and is generally not overtly common.

  • June 13, 2008
    CageQueen

    The girl spelling is supposed to always start with a “K”. Then it takes on these forms:

    Kasey
    Kacee

    etc.

    It’s retarded,really. I’d get no fewer than ten comments a week during the retail years. People felt *compelled* to comment.

    And as for the cheesy jokes…Whilst single, all the old men who should’ve been ashamed to be hitting on me would always open up with a stoopid one-liner such as “Casey? As in K.C. and the Sunshine Band?” I’d always cut them off at the knees by saying something like, ‘Yeah, no, sorry. I wasn’t even born yet.’ Even thought I know full well who they are (I’m actually named for a Grateful Derad song…stoopid hippie parents, LOL). I ‘d also get the requisite “Casey Jones” or “Casey at the Bat”, etc. jokes.

    My mom very much could’ve written this blog because timing is EVERYTHING. She named my brother “Jordan” before anyone had ever heard of it. Literally two years later there was a huge surge in the name. For girls. Yeah, lucky him.

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