Does it matter what people call you? As a shy child I used to dread the first day of school when the roll was called, and the names were read First Name, Last Name. And if you went by a middle name or, God forbid, a difficult nickname, get ready. “Virginia? Virginia Murchison?” my teacher would announce, and I would squeak, “Um, it’s Bess.”
“No, sorry . . . Bess.”
“How do you get Bess from Virginia?”
You don’t. No matter how many years you ask me that question without noticing that my middle name is Elizabeth, you will never create the space for a reply that doesn’t sound sassy and ridiculous and for the record children don’t name themselves. May I please sink through the floor now?
All of my life I have not minded if folks got my name wrong, especially if they were close. I would take Beth or my last name pronounced incorrectly without complaint. After all, I know who you mean! Why make things difficult?
Is that crazy? Maybe, but perhaps not as crazy as those times when I have corrected folks, only to have them argue with me: “Oh, Bessssss. You said Beth in the message you left.” (I am pretty sure I didn’t, but interesting theory).
Now that I am older, I am called even more things (that I know of – and probably others that I don’t ). Mom, for example. All of the time. Especially when it’s time to leave with a full book bag or with certain athletic gear or shoes. Also when feeling sick or scared. It is mostly nice to hear.
Mrs Kercher still makes me feel 100 years old, although since I have been married for about that long, that reaction makes some sense.
Then there are all the labels that name you, like the answer to the question: What do you do? My answer, depending on the day, is housewife or homemaker or stay-at-home-mom. I feel fully empowered by the choices I have made in my life, and yet I often wonder when I give those answers if my feminist credentials aren’t as sparkly as they once were, when I minored in Women’s Studies in college or when I worked as an advocate at a battered women’s shelter.
Eventually I expanded my label to include student (in grad school) and writer (of papers and blogs and other things). And when I started writing, an interesting thing happened. I used a pen name that allowed me to be anonymous, but also could be recognized by folks who knew me best, like childhood friends and my husband and my parents. Being Bessie Mae Mucho in life had always been a comforting place. Why not take that mojo on the road and try it online?
You can see read about my first foray as Mae Mucho online here. That first post was titled “The REAL Desperate Housewives: You Know Who You Are.”
Well, I sure did, anyway. And I call them like I see them.