Friday, June 14, 2013

Don't Call Me That

by Elizabeth

I'm not a Liz. Yuck, yuck, yuck. Well, I should clarify: I don't mind the name for others, but me? Liz? I hate that. It's not who I am, and it grates to hear it in reference to myself.

I'm not sure why some people feel comfortable immediately shortening others' names. I can't count the number of times I've introduced myself as "Elizabeth," only to have the person (interestingly, in my memory it's far more often men who've done this) take my hand with a warm smile and say, "It's nice to meet you, Liz." Why they would do this is beyond me. To me, it's nearly akin to meeting a Mike and addressing him as Joe. It's simply not the same name.

My mother gets an even worse version of this. Her given name is Margaret, but her lifelong nickname is Margy, pronounced with a hard G, which is admittedly not common, but not difficult to pronounce, either. Probably about a quarter of the time I've been around to watch her meet someone new, the response to "I'm Margy," has been along the lines of, "Hi, Margie!" (like margarine). Every time I grit my teeth to keep myself from blurting "You are right, she mispronounced her own name, and thanks so much for clearing up that lifetime blunder." Since this would be even ruder than the offense just committed, I hold my tongue. But I'll correct them if she doesn't. (I guess she's inured to it by now.)

In writing my latest manuscript, this idea has crossed my mind more than once. My main character has a name that doesn't necessarily easily lend itself to nicking (is that a term?), but I'd like to establish the easy rapport she has with some other characters and the name seems both a logical and effective choice. Plus, a rocky relationship with another character might be further defined by what they call each other. Yet another character's name is a nickname already, and my guess is that she doesn't care for and won't allow the longer version. I'm hoping she'll let me know.

Smudge and ???
Meanwhile, two new creatures have joined our family, and the naming game is on. So far one kitten has been named, but the other? Nothing quite fits yet. And a fitting name is important, especially when you plan to call it through the house for the next fifteen years.

Can you see the little white spot on the back of the kitty in front? My daughter used the thesaurus to find synonyms for spot (because really, we just couldn't name her Spot in good conscience), and so she is now Smudge. This is extra appealing as she shares a name, though not the spelling, with a guy from a Ren Fair show we saw last fall: Ded Bob's helper is named smuj.

But her sister? I thought of Nellie or Patsy in homage to George Washington (for whom our dog is named); Sissy, which has that recurring S and is also sweet and funny; Turbine in honor of her constant purring. Pretty much shot down on all counts. My son keeps pulling names from video games and various mythologies, but I cannot name a kitten Medusa or, apparently in honor of her sheet destroying (?), Baaletta. Umm, no.

So for now, we will keep seeking the right moniker, even as I continue to ponder what my character's husband might call her, and how she likes it, and what she calls the others around her. Pretty soon I'll start talking to my Beta readers about the manuscript, and maybe they will be able to shed some light on the matter if I haven't figured it out yet. I'm not quite at the point where I'm ready to share, though, so I'll have to go it alone for now.

Not so true with the kittens though. If you have any ideas for my two pound rumbling cuddle pot with a sister named Smudge, shout it out. We can't call her Not-Smudge forever. She hates that.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous14 June, 2013

    Hey! Found you! And so true on the Liz thing!


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