Saturday, June 19, 2004

What's in a name?

Last night at the music festival, I saw just about everyone I know. It was incredible...every time I turned a corner, there was a friend. I took in a ton of great live music and drank more than I usually do (which still isn't really that much) and somehow thought it was a good idea to call the s.o. at 2:30 AM just to tell him I was still out (which he knew). I woke him up, of course. Oops.

I got to thinking, over the course of the evening, how lucky I was to have parents who named me Jamie. When I was young I didn't like my name because it was often a boy's name. Several times I showed up at summer camp only to find that the counselors had saved me a bunk in the boys' cabin. Humiliating. The Bionic Woman was named Jaime, and that was potentially cool, but in the end it only resulted in misspellings and unfavorable comparisons.

In the 1980s, suddenly my name got very trendy for girls (thanks to Helen Hunt's character on Mad About You, maybe?). I'd be walking around in a grocery store and hear someone call out "Jamie!" and it wasn't for me--it was for some four-year-old blonde girl. Over time, the name has developed into a pleasantly sexy, yet intellectual name that I can really inhabit. Thanks, Mom and Dad.

Some of the people I know and love have not been so lucky. I have friends--all of whom I saw last night--named Tiffanie, Brittany, and Candy. There's an Ashley, too, but she goes by her middle name instead. Not one of them fits the stereotype of her name. Tiffanie is a delightfully sarcastic brunette with a Ph.D. in art history. Brittany is a talented photographer who looks like a lanky Clara Bow. Candy is a recovering-hippie business student who has a Great Dane named Sampson. And not-Ashley is a trash-talking tough girl--so much so that when people encounter her online, they always assume she's a guy.

I think maybe a lot of people are stuck with the task of living down their names. The s.o. has a name that many people automatically associate with rednecks, and he has expended considerable effort to avoid meeting that expectation.

I am just glad I haven't had to try that hard. And when I see things like this, I feel doubly lucky.