What's In a Name? : ~Words Matter~
Rosalind Foley
Novelist                                                                                                                              Screenplay Writer 
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What's In a Name?

by Rosalind Foley on 09/14/15

I recently discovered a longtime writer friend has a first name most people would think feminine. It must have been a cross for him, growing up. I've always felt sorry for guys named Carrol or June or Beverly. That's a lot to live down.

Even if names don't elicit teasing, they carry a certain weight. Parents should consider that, with its many ramifications. It takes a strong person to live up to a very grand or uncommon moniker. I've had to spell mine for people a lot.

Almost all names, first and last, suggest a rhyme of sorts and are used to tease, something apparently inherent in human nature. Jeremy becomes "Germy" and Heather, "Feather." Paul inescapably gets "Pollywallydoodle all the day." As you could guess, my husband and children were plagued with "Holy Foley."

Then there are nicknames. Anyone with a name beginning with Ros inevitably gets nicknamed "Rosie" as I was for most of my youth. An overly serious child, I thought it sounded like a bubble dancer in pink tights. Too late I realized it would have made an ideal generic grandma name. Because I left that decision up for grabs, I now have to stop and think which family calls me what.

Not having a middle name seem odd to some. My mother, like her mother before her, whether short on names or imagination, felt females could use their maiden names for their middle initial. That wasn't nearly the nuisance to explain, however, as my brother-in-law had. His parents, even more sparing, gave him two initials only, resulting in some comical documents and Air Force dog tags. The  simple J.T. became "Jonly Tonly."

Just as girls in the throes of puppy love will doodle dreamy pages of " Mrs. So-and-so", they almost always become discontented with the name they were given. It must be part of adolescence. I let a few people call me "Roz" although my name is pronounced with a long o. Briefly I tried on "Lin" or "Lindy" but they never fit. I'm reminded of the stack of '20s - '40s popular sheet music I have which my aunt inscribed with "Emily", having decided that the simple Ruth was just too dull for words.

Sometimes I think we have to grow into the names we were given. There's a line in a Jacques Brel song that says "If we only have love, we can use our own names."  I rather like mine, now.

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