Wednesday

What's in a Name?


"I guess it doesn't matter what a person's name is as long as he behaves
himself."


"Well, I don't know...I read in a book once that a rose by any other name
would smell as sweet, but I've never been able to believe it. I don't
believe a rose would be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk
cabbage."

~Anne of Green Gables~

~by L. M. Montgomery~

For most of my childhood, I did not know my name.

No, I wasn't adopted. I just had confused parents. If I had been a boy, there would have been no problem. I would have been named Harold John Szeker. My parents already had three girls and thought for sure God would not punish them again...they already used up the girl's names that they agreed on. But, much to the displeasure of the Szeker line, I was not a boy. Suddenly they had a problem. You see, my dad wanted to name me Miriam which means 'Dwelling in the Spirit' or 'Discerning One'. Mom wanted my name to be Marianne, meaning 'Graceful' or 'Harmony and Grace'. Dad, being the genius that he is (he really is a rocket-scientist; I jest not) said, "Okay, Syl. Why don't we name her Marianne but call her by the nick-name of Miriam: Mimi?" So, it was decided. Officially, my name was recorded as Marianne Christina Szeker...but I was known to all as Mimi. Mimi means 'Bitter'. Lovely. Am I graceful or bitter? Or can we say that since Mimi is really just short for Miriam, I am discerning? My sisters just thought of me as selfish: Me-me.

Okay...so, big, fat, hairy deal you say? When I got to Kindergarten, yes, it became a huge deal. Not only were they not saying what I knew as my first name, they could not pronounce my last name to save their lives. No one could...unless they were Hungarian...but the Hungarian pronounciation of Szeker (Sa-care) was no longer being used by my family. You see, my great-grandfather came over from Hungary and planted himself in New York. New Yorkers could not say 'Sa-care' so they said 'Sucker'.

"Hey, Sucka! Come ovah here!"

Great-granddad did not like that one little bit; so he started pronouncing his name 'Zeeker'. Now, imagine, if you will, a little five year old thinking her name is Mimi 'Zeeker' all her life going into a classroom and waiting for her name to be called.

Roll call..."Do we have a Marianne Sazehker? No? How about a Mary Shaza...Sazee...Shnazaker? Marian Sazwehker? Hmmm. Who here has a name that begins with an 'M'?" Four tiny hands raised. By the process of elimination, I was selected. Of course I said, "My name is Mimi." She corrected me, "No, Dear, your name is Marianne." When I got home, I told my parents the story of the wicked teacher that lied to me. "Oh! No, Mimi, they are quite right! Your name is Marianne. Mimi is just a nickname."

"HUH? My name is not my name? Then why are you calling me, MIMI?"

For years I allowed myself to be two people. Marianne Sazekaeeer at school and Mimi Szeker at home. When I brought school friends home, they didn't know what to call me. Not until my senior year in High School did I finally correct a teacher. "Marianne Schazakerrrr?" I boldly and firmly said, "It is MIMI SZEKER" and that is how I was known until I got married.

*When someone asks for Marianne on the phone, I immediately say, "There is no one here that goes by that name..." and I hang up on them because I know it must be a telemarketer (or a bill collector!) ;-)

40 comments:

Bonnie Calhoun said...

You're talent is being wasted on fantasy( but you're still good at it)this stuff is hysterical ROLF....you need to do a memoir like a Dave Barry thing!

M. C. Pearson said...

Okay. You're back in my good graces. Praise me, praise me, praise me! ;-)

Jennifer said...

This is precious. My older sister's name is Phyllis Jean, and we always knew who was calling for her because her church friends called her Phyllis, but her school friends called her Jean. To the family, even today, she is called PJ.

MaY said...

TELEMARKETERS! LOL. That's one way of shooing them away...but there is also such as thing as "Please put me on your DO-NOT-CALL-LIST." If they don't you can sue the company. Woohoo! I was a telemarketer before..never liked the job..that's why I resigned after a month. hehehe.

Name wise...people at home (Philippines) call me "Joery"..here in Canada and USA..people call me "May" (heck it's easier to say!)...my family calls me "Lelec". 3 names! And I thought I was alone in my name dilemna! Glad to know. :-D

M. C. Pearson said...

Jennifer and May (Joery, Lelec)~I love other people who have my problems! LOL I just don't understand why my sisters didn't get the name run-around. I guess I'm just special! ;-)

Trinity13 said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Btw, I do the same thing to telemarketers...they always mispronouce my last name so I tell them that there is no one here by that name! I love it!

M. C. Pearson said...

trinity13~ I enjoyed your blog...loved Serenity! Thanks for stopping by here, too!

Trinity13 said...

Oh I'm so glad you liked it! I plan on seeing it one more time while it is still in theaters...I enjoyed it that much!

Darlene said...

Mimi, that story was written so well, I enjoyed it much. I have a Madison who is called Maddy, but at home she's our Motzie, poor kid.

M. C. Pearson said...

trinity13~ Can't wait to see what you blog about next!

Darlene~ Wow! Twice in one day! I'm honored...Give Motzie my love and sympathy; and tell her I understand. :-)

An80sNut said...

It's amazing how important a name can be and that we all are judged by those that we are given. That being so, there are some names that just shouldn't be given out. Mimi isn't one of them.

M. C. Pearson said...

Glad you stopped by 80's nut! Yeah, strange how many people don't check out the meaning of a name when they give it to their children.

STAG said...

Whats in a name? When I joined a role playing club one time, we all took names to match the person we wanted to be in the role play. Over the years, it became easier to play "yourself with a different name" than to play the part of some imaginary person...but by then the names had stuck. It became really difficult to change to another "role"! (This might be a microcosm of real life! Have to analyze that properly someday!)
Lots of people blog with nom-de-plumes, or chat on the CB with "handles".
Girls change the spelling of their names around here about the time they hit puberty..Gail becomes Gayle, Sibohayan becomes Chiffon, (that makes sense actually!) and boys throw off the diminutives of childhood...Billy becomes Bill, or Will.
Ultimately, you discover that nobody thinks your name is as important as you. Then I see directly below this post a line that says "choose your identity"! Hah! Now doesn't THAT just go to prove the point!

Nettie said...

I do the same kind of thing, only I started calling myself Nettie when I was seven. I'm used to signing my real name for stuff, but whenever someone calls me by it, I have to double take until I realize they're actually talking to me. Add that to the fact that I hate it, I've trained everyone that I am Nettie and nothing else.

M. C. Pearson said...

Nettie~ I agree; nicknames are so funny. They take over and become you.

puremood said...

Neat post!

I've always been just one name... my real first name. Tho, my brother gave me a nickname that only he would use. It isn't often he uses it tho... only when he's feeling super silly, I guess.

Alydyn said...

Mimi: you are so understood on this one! I am Margaret Rachel and my mom is Margaret R (diff middle) My parents like Rachel so I always went by that, but the 1st day of school I was always Margaret. Not ot mention when I would go to the doc etc and they would have to pull both files to see who was showing up that day! Once when I was 13 I went in and the doc said "Well you don't look like a 40 year old that has had 2 children!"

My Mother in law is Wilma and her daughter is Wilma. When Wilma Sr was younger they called her Mima...when she got married and moved to a new area she went back to Wilma and they called Wilma Jr Mima...now no one knows who is talking to who for the mix up in names!

Sorry....had to add my 2 stories in..: )

Thanks for stopping by my blog and I look forward to reading more of yours.

M. C. Pearson said...

Stag~ Yeah, you kinda find your own identity after awhile...never rely on someone else's judgement of who you should be, right? Just be yourself!

Puremood~ Thanks for the return visit! I want to know the brotherly silly nickname...

Alydyn~ Those were great stories! I always welcome other's funnies. Small world!

Lish said...

I love the Anne of Green Gables series. I so relate to this post because I go by middle name which was always a hassle at school. I always know it is a telmarketer or bill collector if they ask for Lois. Also, no one can say my name, Alicia, correctly. It is pronounced like Patricia, not Felicia. This is why is just go by Lish.

M. C. Pearson said...

I adore Anne of Green Gables also Lish! I love the books and the movies as well. BTW, I pronounced your name correctly when I read it! Now try saying Szeker three times fast.

Becky said...

I'm that way, too, with my name for my real name is Rebecca. If anyone ever calls asking for Rebecca, I know it's sales call.

Thanks for stopping by my blog yesterday and for leaving a comment.

M. C. Pearson said...

Becky~ thanks for stopping by mine too. Isn't it funny how many people can relate to the name game?

Running2Ks said...

That is really hilarious. And what a handy way of getting rid of telemarketers.

I call my girls any number of ever-changing nicknames. It is a wonder they even know to come when I call.

An Ordinary Christian said...

I never have really liked my name, Andrea. First, there's no clear way to pronounce it. Second, I didn't think it was common enough. Third, I didn't like the way it flowed with my maiden name, which I changed when I got married. Also, it has too many vowels/vowel sounds. I don't complain out loud much about my first name. It's the only one I ever really had, except a couple family members called me Drea or Dre. Small world! Loved your feedback on my blog! Appreciate it so much!

M. C. Pearson said...

running2ks~ Oh no! Be nice to your kids...you really don't want them turning out like me! Mimi...MEME...Marianne? AHHHH!

An Ordinary Christian~ I'm so glad you've returned! I am constantly amazed how so many people relate to the name thing!

A Human Bean said...

I guess I should consider it a blessing to have a simple name. I have never like the name Doug, but after reading your story it is growing on me.

M. C. Pearson said...

A Human Bean~ Glad I could help! LOL

Kimber said...

This post reminds me too much of our family - my maiden name is Szilagyi - so being Hungarian - I can relate :) None of my teachers EVER got that name right on the first try....and students would just say 'salami' - which became sort of a nick-name for me (not one I ever really embraced...lol)

Years later, I was thrilled to be changing my last name - for my husband's...My married name is of Greek decent - they even shortened it when they came to America - making it Kutrubs -but, let me tell ya, it isn't much easier for people to get right on the try - and when tellemarketers call here - I use the same line - 'There is NO one here by that name'

I never realized how confusing a nick-name could be for a child - as parnets - we unknowingly have done the same thing to our third child with the nickname thing. At birth, we named her Noel (as in the Christmas - Noel) because she was born the day after Christmas..and Noel means - literally Christmas present.

Unfortunately, I never LOVED the name (my husband got to pick) and my oldest daughter was less than 2 when Noel was born - and she couldn't say 'Noel' - she just called her 'well' or 'el' Eventually, that gave way to us calling Noel - El or Ellie - and the nick-name stuck!

When Noel went to school - she was known by all as Ellie - so, she had to tell all of her teachers - that her given name is Noel - and "no, it is not prounced that way - it is like the "First Noel" - but PLEASE call me "Ellie!"

NAMES!!! But, I am with Anne on this one - a rose is sweeter because it is a "ROSE"

M. C. Pearson said...

You are so wonderful for commenting on my strange life autobiography. It is great to know another Hungarian with a name issue!

Hey, your little girl must be popular what with Ella Enchanted!

Kat said...

I, too, know when a telemarketer is calling. "Is Kathleen (I go by Kathy) Sz..i..lag ..lia (or some other slaughtered rendition of Szilagyi) there?"

My reply echoes yours -- no one by that name lives here.

Fellow Hungarians unite!

PJ said...

Good Cow. I thought I was all alone in kindergarten with a name like Phyllis at a time, no less, when Phyllis Diller just happened to have a children's program (Hatville or some such). And I started wearing glasses in kinergarten so not only was I Phyllis Diller, I was four-eyed Phyllis Diller. Have you seen Phyllis Diller? There's a life long self image I've yet to find enough counseling to undo! God love us and the parents who tried to use reason in naming us.

M. C. Pearson said...

PJ~ I know what you mean about comparisons. I was constantly compared to Barbara Streisand for my nose. I was later compared to Suzanne Sommers and didn't mind that at all. But receintly people have said that I look like Bette Midler...not sure how to take that one! I love Phyllis Diller but I wouldn't want to be compared to her either. :)

M. C. Pearson said...

Kat~ Yes Fellow Hungarians Unite!!! Wahoo!

Dee said...

I think we are all unique and try not to compare anyone to another person but there are times when you just cannot help it. I hate the name Darlne (my real name) but my mom loved it. Her neighor was named darlene and she thought mom named me after her but mom hated her. So she named me after someone she hates I guess. Anyway, that woman went out and spent all kinds of money for me and I had not even been named after her. I suffere more in highschool because of my last name which was Putt. I was sooooooooooo glad to get married just so I could change my last name. *s*

M. C. Pearson said...

Dee~ Yeah, eventhough everyone is different some of us have so much in common!

xXDraGonGirLo6Xx said...

That's a pretty amusing start. Well, sort of. I kind of felt bad for you when your KG teacher sort of lied to you. How cruel of that lady. Glad you got it all sorted out, though.

I liked that you put that one thing in there about Mimi and your sisters thinking that it's just you being selfish. Like I said, the whole start was pretty darn funny. I like those names though; all very pretty.

Welp, off to read more....

-Sam

Nick Zegarac said...

Loved the family photos and the quote from Gables. Names are a funny think, aren't they. Just think - if J.F.K didn't have that middle initial we wouldn't know whether to salute or ring the school bell...J.K...get it?

Amy said...

Hehehe, how confusing for you as a child, but delightfully entertaining for us readers. LOL My very simple last name Wiley gets mispronounsed enough that I can only imagine the creative things you must have heard every day!

Kay said...

Ooh...I know all about that! try pronouncing Baracskai! The Hungarian pronounciation is, if I remeber it correcty, (BEAR-ax-shky), but we pronounce it Brass-key! My great-grandparents came over form Hungary, too! I'm 1/4 Hungarian. Though with all my freckles, you'd think I'm half Irish!

M. C. Pearson said...

dragongirl~ your blog isn't there anymore...hope you're okay. :(

Nick~ LOL!

Amy~ names are too weird...but fun. Heh.

Kay~ Hi! hope you get a blog soon. Would love to stop by. Always love hearing from another Hungarian. I'm also Irish...Dutch, French, German, English, and Scotch! Mostly Hungarian and Scotch though...heh, sounds like a drink.