December 23 – New Name
Let’s meet again, for the first time. If you could introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would it be and why?
(Author: Becca Wilcott)
I spent the better portion of my young life wishing I had a different name. There’s not one part of my name that has not opened me up to some sort of teasing or comment from the riff-raff.
The name on my birth certificate is Brandee Louise Gaynes. Good grief. When I was little, I tried several different names out. Shelly. Brenda. Laurie. Unfortunately, nothing stuck.
If you work backwards, Gaynes had it’s own issues. Remember Gaines Burgers dog food? Yeah. You & everybody else. It didn’t matter that it was spelled differently. Kids can’t spell. They just know what they see on tv, and apparently, they saw a lot of dog food commercials.
Louise? That makes for all sorts of lovely rhymes. Brandee Louise is full of cheese. Brandee Louise has dirty knees. Brandee Louise is full of fleas. On & on.
When I was about four, my mother remarried, and the guy that she married adopted me. I got a new last name. Tateosian. It’s not pronounced anything like it looks. Okay? It’s Tat -eee-ocean. Yes, it’s Armenian, as you might have guessed from the “ian” at the end. No, I’m not Armenian, although I do have a pre-op Cher nose. For a kid that would have liked nothing better than to fade into the woodwork, the first day of school was torture. The teacher would call roll, and I would sink down in my seat as she got further & further through the alphabet. Finally, I’d hear, “Brandee Tat…tat…tate…t.” I would cut in with, “It’s Tateosian” and pronounce it for her. She try a few times, and the kids would start to giggle.
Kids think that they’re clever. I was called Daddy-o, Radiation, and my personal favorite, “Tits in the Ocean.” With a last name like that, the teasing with my first name was relatively benign.
Of course, since it’s spelled with two “E’s,” nobody EVER spells my name correctly. I can’t get personalized key chains, or find a mug with my name on it. They didn’t make those “Sex & the City” necklaces with “Brandee” on them. My father is the one that spelled it that way. He apparently wasn’t in quite as creative mood when my half-sister was born. Her name is Misty Lee.
I think that my dad was hoping for either cocker spaniels or strippers. I’m not sure.
The name of my blog, “Brandeewine,” comes from my second grade teacher. Actually, she wasn’t even my second grade teacher. She was my cousin’s teacher. She always called me Brandeewine. Another of my cousins took that and to this day, calls me that.
In junior high, my French teacher was a creepy little Frenchman. He would sing that dreadful song, “Brandy” at me, in his terribly thick accent. “BRRAHN-DEEE, yore a fyne girl…What a GOOOOD wyfe you would BEEEE.” I was mortified.
The best part about my name, during high school, was that my initials were BLT. So, my best friends just called me Sandwich. In college, that took on a whole new meaning. Guys would say, “I’d like to eat a Sandwich today!” Oh…you’re SO clever!
My college boyfriend started calling me “Woodka.” It was his lame attempt at a Russian accent, saying “Vodka.” Get it? Brandee? Alcohol? Why not Vodka?
Once I got married, I happily took my husband’s last name. Baltzell. Brandee Louise Baltzell. What an easy last name! There was some symmetry to it. I like it. Can you believe how many people can’t pronounce it correctly? How hard is it? Balt. Zell. Really? *Sigh*
These days, I spend a lot of time on the phone with people. Some, I don’t ever meet in person. When I do meet them, I’ve been told on more than one occasion that I’m not what they expected. For some reason, they picture something very different. One gal said that she’d imagined me as very small, with dark hair and very white teeth (?). I’m actually pretty tall, with blond hair and my teeth aren’t bad.
I know better. She’s was imagining a cheerleader, a stripper or a cocker spaniel.
I’ve gotten used to my name. It’s kind of funny to imagine myself at age 90, sitting in a nursing home. I’ll be sitting next to all of these other little old ladies with faded tramp stamps that say, “Lucky” or guys with ear lobes stretched to their shoulders from gages, and I’ll introduce myself to them. “Hello. My name is Brandee.” And I’m sure that they will giggle.