Tuesday, October 18, 2005

How long do you wait before you tell someone your name isn't what they're calling you?

For the average person, right away. Or maybe after the 2nd time. For me? Hardly never.

I spent the past two days being called someone else's name instead of my own. And what's funny is that the person started out just fine yesterday morning. She was calling me by my name left and right. I'm not sure what happened, perhaps I mentioned the other name one too many times when talking to her, but by 10am, I was someone else.

Being someone else is interesting because if anything bad happens, you didn't do it. But what if someone wants to thank you or do something nice for you, and someone else's name is attached to that gesture of kindness? And how, exactly, do you tell someone you hardly know and don't even know how often you will talk to them as time passes, that they're calling you by a completely different name? Does it really matter?

Maybe it's an ego thing. Maybe it's a respect thing. Maybe it's a who really cares thing when it comes down to it.

I've been called so many different names in my life because I've been cursed with a first name no one can pronounce when reading it and no one can spell when writing it down. And my middle name is always confused with Marcia. You simply switch the placement of the 'i' so that it's before the 'c,' and you have my middle name. Go ahead, write it down. Now say it. You said Marcia, didn't you?

One time I had someone look at my middle name and announce to me, "Oh! Your middle name is sooo patriotic! Mer-eek-a!" As in, A-merica. As in, silent 'a.' Ah, yes, my parents are fun lovin' hippies who wanted to show their hippy-love of the good ol' USA. Why not go all the way and just name me America?

Then there's the last name, which I can only blame on myself for having because I married my husband and took his name. I certainly didn't have to, although there were some mumbles about not marrying me if I didn't take it.

When I first met my husband, a day after our first date I realized I didn't know his last name. He, being the sauve devil that he was (notice I said "was" and not "is" -- he's married now and not allowed to act cute with other girls) told me: It's Zarate, like karate but with a 'Z.' Now, I know why he told me this because Zarate isn't the easiest name to pronounce by people, but it's still a corny thing to say. It's probably something he said over and over and over to all his lady friends. So that's how I learned to pronounce it, and I often bring up his smooth talking at really inappropriate moments. Just because it's fun.

But now, because we're living in a more customer-oriented world (Safeway), and I tend to have to call customer service people a lot these days, I have been told many, many, many times that my last name is like 'karate." But with a 'Z.' Ah yes, you are very smart, grass hopper. I never thought of that. Now find a way to get people to pronounce my first and middle name, and I'll pay you several dollars.

And now back to my first name. I have been called Janie, Janice, Janeece (fun combo of my name and my sister's), my sister's name and other names that I can't think of right now. Some have been bizarre. No one really tackles my middle name unless they want to test their wits.

Add it all together and what do you have? One long name no one can pronounce or spell correctly. I can't wait to have kids. I want to torture them so. If I had to live through it, so will they.

Back to the beginning, I never told the person that they were calling me by the wrong name. I think they figured it out for themselves. It's more fun that way sometimes.

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