Becky Says...

July 10, 2000

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Proper Names

My name is Rebecca. I frequently ask people to call me Becky, or introduce myself as such, in social situations. In formal situations, I usually stay with Rebecca. You're welcome to call me either of them.

I've had trouble with my name a lot in my life. Well, I haven't, but other people certainly have! My mother started out calling me by a different nickname, which I hated, so I won't share it. I started (at age 8) asking people to call me either Rebecca or Becky. Either one was fine. And the hated nickname has all but disappeared (a couple of cousins still can't get it right all the time, but they get major points for trying).

Next problem was the surname. My dad died when I was very young, and several years later, my mother remarried. My stepfather didn't adopt me, so there was no legal reason to change my surname to his. And since musical little me didn't like how that surname sounded with my first name, I didn't. (Just as well; the marriage ended in divorce.) But half the people who knew us figured that his name was now mine. I got mail addressed incorrectly for years.

And it is a mistaken notion that "all" Southerners have what are known as "double first names." You've heard them---Billy Bob, Betty Sue. I've had people try to add a second name to mine. If it's a friend making a joke, I usually enjoy it. But if that's not the case, I stop the person, using a tone of voice that leaves no doubt that doing this again is not wise.

I like being called Becky. Or Rebecca. But I don't particularly want to be called Beck, or Becca. Nice names, but not "my" name. I once dated someone who thought he would call me Becca to make the point that he had a place in my life that no one else had. He said as much when he called me that the first time. He dropped the notion quickly when I told him that variation was old to me.

I never have understood how a person comes to the conclusion that it is appropriate to rename another adult, without that person's consent. Oh, sometimes nicknames make sense, for sports stars, etc. But not in real life---then assigning nicknames often backfires. An example: a friend of mine is named Charles. He isn't Charlie, and he sure isn't Chuck. But someone he worked with persistently called him Chuck, apparently thinking that his renaming Charles made him seem somehow more important. But since no one (including Charles) could figure out who the idiot wanted if he asked to speak to Chuck, he finally had to give it up.

Since I feel strongly about being called by my preferred name(s), I am certainly happy to call other people whatever they wish to be called. If you want to lose a nickname, make sure I'm among the first to know---I'll help you correct people.

What happens if you call me by a name I don't claim as mine? Easy---you get ignored!

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My heart is with the people written of here and here. Thanks to all for your continuing thoughts and prayers.

Text copyright 2000 Becky