Day 296. Our I.D.

Do you like your name? Do you think it ‘fits’? You know, does it suit you? Does it feel like you? When you hear someone call your name do you automatically think, frances“Yeah, that’s ME.” I only ask because first names were the topic of yesterday’s WordPress Daily Prompt.

In case you’re wondering, I do not. Like my name. Never did. I feel misplaced in it.

My given name is Frances. Definitely not me. Too unimaginative. Too formal. Too prissy. Too straight. Too straight laced. Too prudish. Too serious. Too strict.

No disrespect intended, by the way, if your name is Frances. This is just how I feel, given my particular personality.

The other reason I’m not crazy about it is, despite the difference in spelling, whenever I hear it, I immediately think of Francis the Talking Mule. Don’t have a clue who I’m talking about?

He — yes I know that because males spell their names with an “i” instead of an “e” — was a mule celebrity, featured in seven

movie comedies in the 1950’s. If you say there’s a resemblance between us I will hunt you down. I promise. And then there’s no telling what I’ll do. (just joking). HaHa!

Of course on the positive side there’s also Frances McDormand, who I happen to think is a brilliant actress. She’s married to Joel Coen who, along with his brother Ethan, make wonderful, if slightly bizarre, movies. I still don’t like my name. At least not for me. If, by chance, any of you know Frances McDormand, I’d love to know how she feels about it. For her, not for me. She hasn’t a clue who I am. And why would she care, anyway?

She must be okay with it. She would have had a choice. Actors usually pick their ‘stage’ names.

I, on the other hand, did not. Have a choice. My parents named me when I was born. What could I do? I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t tell them I didn’t like it. I suppose I could have cried. Which I’m sure I did. But they probably thought I was hungry. Or tired. Or in need of a diaper change. Which I’m sure I was. But I’ll bet I was also crying because of my name.

Jewish people are named after deceased family members. It’s meant to be an honour. For the dearly departed. My paternal grandfather’s name was Frank. He passed long before I was born. Even my mother never got to meet him. I think he was a relatively young man when he died. Strangely, I don’t know all that much about him. My father didn’t talk about him a lot. He didn’t dislike him, to the best of my knowledge. They got along. He loved him. Just didn’t have a lot to say on the subject.

Now I’m sorry I never probed. Asked some questions. Who knows. Maybe grandpa Frank and I have a lot in common. I don’t know. Similar character. Or mannerisms. Perhaps I would have felt better about my name, if I could have better identified with the man I was named for. Too late now. No one’s around who can tell me.

Regardless, I’ve been unhappy with my name for as long as I remember myself.

When I was about eleven or twelve years old I remember I was going through a phase where I wanted to be an artist. I moaned about my name to my mother’s twin sister one day, when I was visiting her. As long ago as it was, I remember our conversation like it was just happening. “But auntie Annette”, I whined. “How can I sign my canvases Frances? It’s not a good name for an artist. I really want to change my name.”

Inside she was probably killing herself laughing. But somehow she managed to keep a straight face. No one ever called me Frances. Everyone — friends, family, teachers all called me Francie. She listened to me attentively, probably praying for divine intervention or something. Suddenly she snapped her fingers and exclaimed: “I’ve got it! Let’s change the spelling of Francie to Fransi. You have to admit it’s very different. Creative. And it would look great on a canvas!”

“Hmmmmm …” I thought about it. And while I was thinking she was listing all the reasons why it was the perfect name for me. Counting them off on her fingers. Talk about salesmanship. Well it worked.

It was settled, much to my aunt’s relief. To seal the deal she suggested we call my parents immediately and inform them. Which we did. She wanted it cast in stone as quickly as possible. She knew me very well. She knew, even at that tender age, when I got stuck on an idea, I got stuck. I guess she wanted to make sure I didn’t start trolling the yellow pages looking for lawyers who specialize in name changes.

My new name, or at least the new spelling of my name, satisfied me for a while. But buried in the back of my mind there was always a secret longing to change it. To this day, I never have. And I suppose now I never will.

Years ago I had a friend who insisted on calling me Franzi. With a “z” instead of an “s”. I liked it, but by then I was known as Fransi and I decided it would just be too complicated to ask people to spell my name differently.

What name would I like? I have no idea.

46 thoughts on “Day 296. Our I.D.

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  3. 😉 It is funny actually how so many of us dislike our given names. My youngest has the Italian version of your name Francesco….over the years he’s called himself…Franci, Cesco, Sisco and most everyone calls him Franz now. And we live in Italy but I’m German origin so I guess it shows. I didn’t think about it at the time but it is a heavy name to carry especially in Italy!

    • An aunt of mine used to call me Francesca. And I have a close friend who is Suzette, but everyone calls her Sue. Her mother used to call her Suzanne. Names are funny and interesting and weird.

      • Yes they are. Some people called me Suzy…the problem with that in Italy was that su in Italian means up…susina which has a similar sound to Suzy with the Italian a last letter for feminine names means plum…Francesca is pretty common as is Francesco over here…gues that’s probably closer to the reason my youngest plays with his name to have something a little more original. Suzette was not a common name when I was growing up, I think it’s become less of a big deal now…does your friend get compared to the famous French crepe?

      • No, she never gets compared to a crepe. At least as far as I know. I like Suzy. I have known several Suzys. Yes, I can understand how common Francesco and Francesca are in Italy. Very uncommon here, in Canada. Names are more complicated than we think, it seems.

  4. My given name is Kathleen which no one but my immediate family called me. My friends called me Kathy. That is until I decided I needed a one-syllable name that had strength to it so I changed it to Kate. That was a long time ago and it stuck. When I was growing up Carol and Linda were the cool names. I don’t think I have heard of anyone naming their child that in 40 years! There were a lot of Frances/Francis when I as young. It was a very popular name for both sexes.

    • It’s interesting how names go in and out of fashion. Like hemlines. I like Kate. It’s straight forward and self assured. And approachable. Spirited. Good choice.

  5. Well of course I don’t like my name at all (Sue) because just about everyone I know and care about is named Sue! I did a blog about this, which was satisifying, but still am stuck with my Sue name. Blah!

  6. I have always disliked my name Caryl especially as it’s spelt slightly different and have spent 60+ years saying Caryl with a ‘y’…my name doesn’t suit me at all so I can sympathise with you. But, like you, I don’t know what I would prefer it to be! haha

  7. My given name is William. I went by Billy as a kid, which my family still calls me to this day, but went with the more adult sounding Bill in my 20’s. My full name is common and boring as hell, but that’s me in real life, so I guess it fits me!

    BTW, I’ve always said your name as “Franzi” because the local dialect where I live dictates that if the last syllable of a word is “see”, it is usually pronounced with a Z sound rather than an S. I once bewildered someone from another part of the country when I rhymed the words “easy” and “greasy” on an internet forum…

  8. Great post! I have always felt that my name, Katherine, is never been quite right. I love Kate and have tried actively a few times to get people to call me that (every time I moved somewhere, I would make an effort) but it has never quite stuck. It is interesting, though, that people close to me usually come up with some type of nickname (Katrina, KitKat, Katey) so they seem to agree with me that Katherine just isn’t quite the right fit…

    • I think in order for a name change to stick you have to make it official. At least as far as how you sign your name and refer to yourself. And eventually people will get the message. Be Kate on LinkedIn and Facebook and Twitter and your blog. Sign letters and emails Kate. Same as cheques. Use it wherever your name us printed. Legally you’re still Katherine, unless you change to Kate legally, but in your everyday life you’ll be Kate. It works.

  9. Wow – I can totally relate to problems with names! My husband and his family insist upon calling me “Lee”, although I point out that if my mom wanted that to be my name she would have named me Lee Ann instead of Lyann.
    My grandmother’s name was Frances, and she went by Frankie. I like the way you have changed yours – Fransi…very nice and unique without being weird 🙂
    Lately my issue with my name is that I’ve been blogging as LyannV for quite some time – and when I began studying New Media Journalism recently I thought I would change to Lyann Valadez for (yet another) blog. It’s become obvious my blogging friends will always think of me as LyannV, though, so it looks like I’ll be sticking with that, for the most part.
    As always, another great post, Fransi 🙂

  10. Having grown up with a nickname spelled in an unusual way (Christi with an I at the end is pretty uncommon, but it’s just a shortening of my full name Christina. It seems logical to just take off the last two letters, but no one else seems to think so), I long ago decided that my kids will have names with no nicknames. It has to be easier that way. Although, who really knows? Great post!

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