Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What's in a Name: The Existential Crisis Edition

I hate my name. Keri. Short and sharp. No frills. Grating even. Wrap your mouth around that hard consonant and finish on an irritating up-vowel. (Up-vowel may not be a real thing.) And it's spelled ridiculously. Keychains from Disney? Not for me, ever. Keri Jean? Ugh, even worse. In my head, it conjures up an Elizabethan midwife or scullery maid. "Keri Jean will know how to get the placenta out of the dressing gowns. Fetch her from the stables at once."

When I tell people "Keri," the number one response I get is "Oh, like the movie?" Well, no asshole, not like the movie. High school was awkward but I made it through prom without murdering anyone. Barely, but still. What's more, how bullshit is it that I get lumped in with Carrie based on name alone? I'm sure people with your name have done some pretty fucked up things, but I don't associate you with their tomfoolery. And if your name is Tom, I wouldn't be so bold as to assume that you're even in to tomfoolery.

Your name is undeniably connected to your identity, but you don't even get to choose it. What people call you, what you sign on the dotted line, what you have to hear for your whole life is designated at birth by people who don't even know you yet. You don't even know you yet. Maybe you never truly know you, but I can only have one existential crisis at a time.

I refrain from bitching about my name in front of family since I was named after two family members. I never met Great Great Grandma Carrie (note the change in spelling from the movie to the lotion - way to go, Mom), but I am told she was a badass. Jean is a popular choice for middle names in my family; I think I'm the third or fourth one with that denim designation. Even typing it is starting to piss me off. Keri Jean. Yuck. Every so often, someone gets real cute and buys me Keri lotion as a silly gift, and guess what -  

I'm fucking allergic to it. So stop that.

I can only complain about something for so long without being moved to action. At 4:30 this morning I decided to take charge and change it. And I was sober, so suck on that. Why not? It's just a matter of paperwork and 30 bucks. I can do this, it's my choice now. I have the power to chose a nom de plume that fits me, something that I can stand behind, something I'd be proud to shout from the highest points of every great city. All I need to do is pick a name.

Cue moniker meltdown. Do I still want to be named after a family member? My two favorite people are younger than me, so that doesn't make any sense. My favorite uncle was like a big brother when I was growing up, so I could adopt the female form of his name. I could be Danielle and go by Dani. That's nice.

Or maybe I could get away from the family thing altogether and go looks-based. I have a lot of my dad's Polynesian features, but with a last name of "Ramos" I more often have people speaking Spanish at me than asking me to hula dance. I bet if I had an ethnically stereotypical name like Kimani or Haliaka then people would guess Hawaiian (correct) before Spanish (again, incorrect).

Well, being Hawaiian means less to me than being named after a family member. I mean, heritage is important, and I once got a piercing in my face to celebrate my culture (tell you later) but my first name based purely on that? Maybe not.

I can say I know what I don't want (noun-names like April, Daisy, Savannah; monosyllabic names; anything that ends in the letter O) but why can't I pick something I like?

I'm staying away from popular late 80s names. I know about seven Jessicas, nine Ashleys, forty-seven Tiffanys and, if I had to give a rough estimate, about 1.8 million Brittanys.

I also don't want any name that appears in a song. Just can't do it. As it stands, three people in the world are allowed to sing or reference "Carrie Anne" by the Hollies in my presence. A fourth person tried once. Once.

How about naming myself after someone I want to emulate? That could be okay. Like what about Olivia from Law and Order: SVU? Perhaps. Or how about Clarisse from Fahrenheit 451?! (See, you think she's not an important character, but she really is. I could write my dissertation on her.) Ohmygosh. NANCY. FUCKING. DREW.

Now I have too many choices. Now I am staring at the sun slowly rising through my bedroom window. Now I am afraid that all the control in the world over my name doesn't matter one bit since I can't even make a decision. Maybe taking charge is pretty damn useless if I don't have the guts to pull the trigger. Maybe I shouldn't be in charge of anything in my life at all considering I can't even decide what to name myself. Maybe I'll just have no name. I'll walk down the street and people will whisper "There she goes, she doesn't even have a name, poor girl. She choked on her name change form and left it blank and it actually went through - can you believe it? Of course Florida legislature let her change her name to nothing, fucking morons. But yeah, she's just got an empty space on her driver's license and they say she's just that empty inside."

For fuck's sake, get it together, Keri.

Hmm. Keri. Simple, but still kind of weird. Abrasive, but with a certain finesse. It's familiar, but not exactly commonplace. Snappy, curt, quick to action. Wrap your mouth around that hard consonant and finish on an irritating up-vowel. Now spell it ridiculously.

Yeah, that'll work.

1 comment:

OldSchool said...

And just that fast she is back. Good note on Lotion but I would be dishonest if I didn't say a blank would be bad ass, Scrabble style.