Thursday, November 18, 2010

What's in a name?

The other day, one of my coworkers called me Saree. I smiled politely and exclaimed, "Wow, I haven't heard that in a long time. My mom calls me that."

I was named after the main character in the book A Little Princess. When my mother was sick with mono as a teenager, my grandmother read her A Little Princess to keep her entertained. My mother wound up loving the story and exclaimed, "If I ever have a daughter, I'm going to name her Sarah."

The name Sarah isn't very conducive to nicknames. Since it's only two syllables, it's hard to shorten into a catchy monosyllable that rolls off the tongue. The only real nicknames I've had in life were created by expanding my name into Sarahbell (as my best friend, Lynn, does), calling me by my first and middle names, or by changing the last syllable into something else (as my mom does with Saree).

When I was really little, I used to hate my name. I wanted to be named Crystal. I also really wanted to have long, blonde hair like Barbie. Fortunately, my tastes have vastly changed since then. When I finally accepted my first name and coloring, I moved on to hating my middle name. I thought it was too hokey. I began warming up to it when I realized the aesthetic qualities of my initials and using my middle initial when I wanted to feel older and more important. Now, I kind of like my middle name. My first and middle names together have a nice, folksy feel that lends well to my personality.

To my knowledge, no one else has ever called me Saree, up until my coworker this week, other than my mother. When she used to call me, she would always start the conversation with, "Saree? Hi, it's Mom." Likewise, she always starts phone conversations with my brother with, "E? Hi honey, it's Mom." I never particularly liked the name; it sounds a little childish and generally just a little off to me, but that's what I grew up with, so it just became the norm. I don't bat an eye when my mom calls me Saree, but when my coworker called me that, it definitely gave me pause and reminded me that it's one of the few terms of endearment my mom has ever showed toward me.

Sarah's such a popular name that it would be neat to be a little unique, but I've come to terms with not being one of the nicknamed people. I did; however, find out today that Sadie is a traditional nickname for Sarah. How did I get through a quarter of my life without knowing this?! I don't know how I feel about the name Sadie though. All I can think about is the Beatles' song "Sexy Sadie." Plus, I don't think I can really try and push a nickname for myself after 20+ years. It's generally something that you have to establish early on in life.

Also, may I also mention briefly that I bristle when people leave off the "h" in Sarah? There is a huge distinction between Sara and Sarah. I try not to take it as personally as I do, but being a Sarah, I know that I am not a Sara and do not want to be mistaken for one. Nothing against Saras, I just know that my personality aligns more with the Hs than the As. I'm pretty sure you have to be a Sarah or Sara to really understand what I'm talking about (or know some of both), but just believe me when I say: take the Sarah/Sara distinction seriously, my friends.

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