A server at a restaurant handed me the receipt and said, “Thank you, Genevieve.”

I smiled.

With the exception of my friends or Gary voicing it in jest, I’m not often called by my given name.  When I am, my surprise is always followed by a smile.

I have been using my “real’ name more than usual of late—thanks to a DMV employee who handed back my paperwork for incorrect identification.

“I believe you are both Genny and Genevieve,” said the DMV clerk.  “But rules are rules.”

Even though I’ve been Genny with utility and credit card companies for at least 100 years, the people who hold the keys to my car, via my driver’s license, claimed consistency is of the utmost importance.

“It would behoove you to use your official name on all documents—the one that appears on your driver’s license and birth certificate,” he said.


I think my DMV advisor wanted to say, “Be who you are.  Own her.”  But he didn’t.

His nitpicky rules resulted in pain in the neck work for me.  Be ye forewarned young Johns who are called Jack, Olivias shorted to Liv, and Theodores who go by Ted.

Speak the nickname; write the given name.

I’m not certain why my parents named me Genevieve and called me Genny, but I’ll throw out an educated guess.  My father gifted his children with the names of his siblings.

Among three Johns, three Geralds, three Charlies, two Donalds and two Genevieves, being able to call one child who might answer at family gatherings was probably a relief.

Many of today’s parents are giving firm names to their unborn children.  Soon to join families of friends are Anders, Norah, and Ainsley.  I can’t wait to meet them.

Gary and I tried to pre-prepare.  We chose names early on for each of our children—ever so carefully.  I’m relieved we didn’t share our choices with anyone.

Only one out of three stuck.  The story rings differently for the remaining two.

The minute baby two, later three, was placed in my arms, the name we spent months deciding on was tossed for one we had never considered, but somehow seemed to fit.

As a child, I did not hate Genevieve. How could I when I so loved the aunt for whom I was named?

I grew accustomed to the embarrassment that came hand in hand with each first day of school.  Teachers called me everything from Geneva to Guinevere until I interjected, “Just call me Genny.”

When I was in single digits, it was not easy to form a bond with a name that was—if one stacked the letters vertically—much taller than I.  It was difficult to forge a friendship with a name that was spoken aloud only when the wrath of a parent followed.

“Gen-nuh-veev, come home right now” and “Gen-nuh-veev, come here this minute” and, worse of the worst, the stand alone, elongated version: “Gennn-nuhhhhh-veeeeevvvvv!”

Oooooh, the memory of that last one still makes me want to jump under the bed, hide in a closet, or run off and into the woods.

Naming a child is challenging.  It’s a big—HUGE—responsibility.  Messing up that first parenting task can have disastrous results.  Just ask the boy named Sue.

Going over lists and lists and lists of names for our three children made me appreciate what my parents must have suffered through.   In the end, they chose to give their children names they could grow into.

So it is and so I have.  Genevieve.  I’ve grown to appreciate her.


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