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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What's In a Name?

I have five names.  Five!  Okay, well technically I only have four because my last name is hyphenated but most people (and a lot of computers too) just have no idea how to handle that hyphen so they just pretend it's not there and choose to only acknowledge the letters on one side of the hyphen which is sometimes annoying and other times, hilarious.

I never thought I'd have five names and certainly never saw myself as the type who would complicate things by throwing a hyphen in the mix.

I've told this story here before but my given name is Paula Diane and oh, how I couldn't wait to drop that Paula when I married Darin and use my maiden name as my middle name.  Not because Paula is a bad name.  I like the name.  I was named after my dad, Paul.  But it just confused people and made me feel like I was somehow not being honest when I just went by it without feeling the need to explain that I'm not really Paula...I just play one on paper. 

Yeah, the people at the dmv, social security office and especially that lively bunch over in customs do not appreciate your explanations. It only gives them a good excuse for scowling and treating you like a hardened criminal.  

And just when I thought I was finally done with the complicated mess of an extra name, I went and got married again.  The first time I did drop Paula.  It was gone from my social security card, driver's license, medical records...gone. The only place it remained was my birth certificate.  Ahh....I was free to be Diane at last and for many years.  

Then I married Charlie, post 9-11, and that witch nice lady at the social security office told me I could drop Diane or my maiden name or Darin's last name (my children's last name!) but I was gonna be Paula again whether I liked it or not. And that was that. 

So I took a big deep breath, bit my tongue real hard and said, "Fine.  Paula it is.  I'll be Paula again! The maiden name goes." 

I was, after all, still me... only a me with five names married to a man named Charlie who had gone by Chuck (Chucky when he was younger) for 40 years.

You see, we met online and while he had only been back in the wonderful world of dating for a few months he had already experienced a little crazy (and not the good kind) with some of the women he'd met so Charlie was his online alias and since his name is actually Charles anyway, he didn't feel it was a lie. 

We were still getting to know each other and I was none the wiser until I got an email from Chuck.  "Who the heck is Chuck?! Who exactly are you anyway?  Are you Charlie or are you Chuck?"  And so he explained his situation and I explained to him that I liked Charlie better and he said he really did too but just could never get anyone to call him that growing up. So Charlie he would be.  

And that is how I became the woman with five names and a hyphen married to Charlie, the man formerly (and in some circles still today) known as Chuck.  

But really?  What's in a name?  


  1. My nickname is Betsy, which is not a shortened version of my first name, but of my middle (Elisabeth). And most people don't even know it's one of the many nicknames for Elisabeth, so they are totally confused by it. Depositing checks is a nightmare.

    Add to that the tendency for people to call me Betty instead of Betsy and you've got people thinking there's a Betsy, a Betty AND an Elisabeth.

    Nope. There's just me. Sorry for the confusion.

    I blame my mother.

  2. First time visitor.

    I know its different for guys, but I have had name troubles my whole life cause I'm a Junior. Dad goes by the first name, and I by the middle.

    But it always screws stuff up.

  3. My name is Amber but people LOVE to call me Amanda. It's annoying.

  4. You make me laugh with this silly story of how it all came to be and it's funny that both of you have funny name twist stories!

    My DD is so ticked that she's taking on a last name which is incredibly common and boring. She would LOVE to keep her maiden name, but he appears to be somewhat offended by that suggestion so she's reluctantly gonna make the change.

  5. I am having this same dilema.

    You should see my face book profile.

    For your enjoyment...

  6. Exactly. How fun to have five names. Not many people can claim that. My parents didn't give me a middle name. I think that thought I would take Lee as my middle name. Only it wasn't my middle name. They didn't give me one. So I am still a 2 named girl. Some of us aren't as lucky.

  7. You know "uncle Butch"? Nobody knows him by that but my family. Everybody else calls him Earl?
    When his wife is talking about him, half of the time I think she's talking about my grandfather:O

  8. My son will have this problem. He's a Marshall IV, but we call him Mac. Mac is nowhere in his name, but with 4 Marshall's we needed a nickname! He will have troubles growing up!
    As will my daughter, who has a double first name and a middle name, So she already has 4 names.