Day 215. Not Me

I’m working on a project with a former client.  When we were talking on the phone yesterday morning, her dog started to bark.  I asked her to send me some pictures NAMETAGSof him, which she did.  Very cute!  I may have to steal him.  I’ve told her already.  So I decided to send her some pictures of my cats.

It’s no secret.  Animal lovers are all a bit crazy.  Don’t look so surprised.  I’m not telling you something you don’t already know.

Okay.  So we exchanged pet photos.  Then she asked me how I picked their names.  It was an interesting question; and it got me thinking.

I have never liked my name.  Frances.  Yes, my legal name is Frances.  Ugh!  But everyone has always called me Fransi, although the spelling has changed.  Originally it was Francy.  Or was it Francie?  I can’t remember now.  It was a long time ago.

All I know is, for as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to change it.  The first time I was maybe ten or twelve years old.  Back then I thought I wanted to be an artist.  And I remember telling my aunt, I didn’t want to sign my canvasses with my name.  Especially not with Frances.  I complained it was a stuffy, boring, uncreative name.  Certainly not suitable for an artist.

Sensing, correctly, I wouldn’t give up on it easily, she suggested a spelling change.  To Fransi.  A great negotiator, she managed to convince me, at the time, it would look terrific scrawled on the bottom of a canvas.  My desire to be a female Cezanne, or Degas, or Modigliani was relatively short-lived.  So the whole name change drama quickly became a non-event.  Much to the relief of my aunt.  And my parents.

But deep down, under the surface, it’s never gone away.  Because here I am, kvetching about it, all these many years later.

And you know what?  If we took a poll right now, I’ll bet a huge number of folks are right there with me.  Not really liking their names.  Not really thinking they suit them.  And if you think about it logically, it makes perfect sense.

In most cases, names are picked out before we’re even born.  The minute the little stick turns blue (or the rabbit dies, depending on how old you are), most prospective moms and dads are starting to think about baby names.  “This if it’s a boy.  That if it’s a girl”.  So think about it.  How suitable can a name be, when you haven’t even met the child yet?  You don’t know what kind of personality this little, tiny blip is going to turn out to have.  Or what he or she will grow up to be.

Say you give your son a really macho name, like Butch.  Or Buzz.  Or Duke.  Or Vinnie.  And then little Buzz has no interest in sports and decides he wants to become a violinist, or a classical pianist, instead of a quarterback like you were hoping for.  What then?  It’s the same with girls.  What if dear, sweet Bunny or Cookie or DeeDee dreams of becoming a criminal attorney?  Or a Supreme Court Judge.

Right.  Their parents didn’t think that far ahead, when they were going through all those baby naming books.

Everything’s fine when the little darlings are swaddled in blankets, sucking their thumbs, fast asleep in their cradles.  But when they’re all grown up and trying to make their way in the world, life’s not so simple.

Yeah.  Show me a criminal who’s going to want to be defended by a Bunny.  Or a Cookie.  The famed pianist, Van Cliburn just passed away.  How far do you think he’d have gotten with a name like Buzz?  Or Butch?  Can’t you just see it now?  The New York Philharmonic, featuring Butch on the Steinway.  I don’t think so.

Name picking is serious stuff.  I don’t think we pay enough attention to it.

Frankly, I don’t think we should be named until we’ve had a chance to develop a bit of a personality.  To give our parents at least an indication of what we’ll be like when we grow up.  So let’s try something.

You’re getting to know me pretty well, through my blog.  You have a pretty good idea of ‘who’ I am.  What I’m like.  So what would you name me?  What’s the name you think suits me to a ‘T’?

No, you cannot choose Fransi or Frances.

38 thoughts on “Day 215. Not Me

  1. Well I think of you as Fransi and I like it! And have no problem with my name either although if someone calls me PETER, that’s weird, or when I was little Petey which immediately brings the little rascals dog to mind. But I know you and see you as a Fransi which is also a very unique name too!

  2. Ouch! This post hit home. My real name is Kathleen which is not a bad name. It’s not associated with a time period like Jennifer is (most Jennifers are around 40 now, aren’t they?) but it’s long. Nobody famous was named Kathleen. After my split with my ex, in a fit of something (which I didn’t quite understand) I changed it to Kate and have been very happy. That was 15 years ago. I don’t know what I would name you. I tend to favor one syllable names but when you know someone as something, it’s hard to think of them as anything else. When I first came across your blog, I thought it was an unusual name and probably short for Frances. That did give me an age reference but you wear it well and seem proud of it. I like what you did to it to make it unique to you. What would have done if your parents named you Moon Unit? I agree with you. Naming should wait until the child has a personality. In some cases that may be at age 20 or not at all.

    • Well it sure beats Moon Unit. Thank God Demi Moore isn’t my mother. Her kids all have really bizarre names. I like Kate. I think it suits what I know of you.

    • Kathleen Turner is a famous American actress…but I admit I can’t think of anyone else famous with the same first name.

    • I love the name Kathleen or Cathleen and I will always have a special connection with it, having learned in my twenties that both my grandmothers were named Kathleen. Then when I came to live in France I made friends with a very special person who also shares that name, so it has a kind of spiritual connection I guess you could say, way more significant to me than whether or not it was the name of anyone famous. Kate is beautiful too, you have been gifted an name with many possibilities. 🙂

      • I agree. It is a lovely name. And whether or not it belongs to someone ‘famous’ is unimportant.

  3. I like Fransi because it’s unique to you. My hairdresser is Frances, though that is only her English name. She has another name her in her native language (Thai). But if you are looking for another name, I’d suggest one that is dynamic and unique but one that also makes a fun nickname. What about Adrianne — could be Dria, Dri, Anne, Addy? Could make you sound like a newscaster though!

  4. Your name is unique, and easy for me to remember as a result. I really don’t have a clue what – if any – other names to suggest.

    I agree that some parents simply don’t stop to think names through enough. Especially the nickname-last name combination. I went through that when I was a kid, though I know of a couple who had more embarassing monickers than I.

  5. Yes, Fransi – get over it! It’s a fabulous name and when we met in person, your name felt absolutely right. So I’m not obeying your command and I’m choosing Fransi, Fransi, Fransi – 3 times makes it official. End of discussion, Fransi!

  6. This is excellent, because this is something I never really thought about before, and it’s a great point! Why should kids be different from pets? I’ll bet we’d all have more interesting names if our personalities got to decide things…. kind of like the nifty variety of cool identities people have given themselves on the internet….

  7. Love that you are talking about your name because my sister’s name is also Frances – and she has always hated it. She was then nicknamed by our parents and Aunts and Uncles and cousins Francie and she hated that too, because it made her feel like a little kid. When she was 19 she left NZ and went to London and reinvented herself. Now she is Fran and no messing about with it, she’ll answer to nothing else!

    Personally I think Frances is a quietly distinguished name, but one that you either embrace or reject and not very common for girls, here in France I come across it more often as a boy’s name.

    So for me, your name just always brings a smile to my face because it makes me think of my sister in a bit of a tantrum 🙂

    So I shall name you Bernadette. For no other reason than it was the first name to pop into my head when you asked the question in your blog post and just to enter into the spirit of fun in which you ask the question and to invite a response 🙂

    So, do you have a middle name?

    • I do have a middle name. Marilyn. I don’t feel like a “Marilyn” either. Jewish people usually name their children after a deceased love one. Frances, was for Frank, my father’s father. And Marilyn was for my father’s brother-in-law, Morris. The names don’t have to ‘exact’. It’s the first letter. And often, the hebrew names are the same. I like the idea of it, actually. It is meant to ‘honour’ the deceased person; and, of course, in a way, to keep him or her alive.

      Interesting that your sister didn’t like being called Frances either. And also interesting that Francie made her feel like a kid. That’s part of my reason for not being crazy about it, either. My mother had a very close friend who always called me Fran. Years ago I had a friend who called me Franzi. Whenever we’d go anywhere and meet people for the first time, I’d introduce myself; and she’d always say, that’s Franzi with a Zed. I actually quite like Franzi with a Zed.

      • I think the Z is pretty cool and it’s interesting the carrying of names through families, I noticed that in Edmund De Waal’s book, there were three Ignace’s in the Ephrussi family. I was named after an Aunt as well, however I don’t mind my name, I quite like it. Actually, both my sister and I were given different names at birth (we are adopted) so I think I got lucky second time around 🙂 and at least I have another pen name should I ever choose to use it 🙂

        I think I have been influenced by Saint’s names 🙂

      • My mother had a very good friend who’s name was Claire. I think it is a very pretty name. And it’s unusual, which i also like. Think I’m probably more influenced by sinners than saints 🙂

      • Lol. Thanks. It is so funny. When I heard the news even I thought of me. I couldn’t believe I just wrote a blog about hating my name and here we have a Pope Francis. I am being sent a message.

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