"What's in name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Why was it, then, when I brought my old auntie a bouquet of roses, and she exclaimed "What lovely tulips!," the roses got annoyed and wilted right before my eyes? Because no matter what Shakespeare said, names are important.
Now, you wouldn't think that having a name like Patricia Anne Thornton would cause any problems in whitebreaded and Miracle Whipped southern Ontario. But I'm afraid my horrors began in kindergarten, Willowdale, 1965.
Back then, I took great pride in being able to spell my name long before I started school, and long before there was such a thing as Sesame Street. Friends of my parents would drop in from time to time and routinely ask me, "What's your name, sweetie?" And right on cue, I would yell out "Patricia Thornton! P-A-T-R-I-C-I-A-T-H-O-R-N-T-O-N!" (editor's note: Yes, a joy even back then.)
So imagine my surprise that fateful, first day of school when my kindergarten teacher was reading out the class list -- Jimmy Shepherd, Tamara Sukovsky, Ellis Taylor, Pat Thornton... I looked around the room, wondering whose name was so similar to mine. No one answered, so I waited for my name -- all the way down to Phillip Zerr. What? No Patricia Thornton? The teacher noticed that I was not accounted for, and asked me what my name was. "Patricia Thornton! P-A-T-R-I-C-I-A-T-H-O-R-N-T-O-N" I shouted proudly. "Oh, Pat," she smiled through white painted lips (she wore too much make-up. I would call her The Ghost.) "Why didn't you put up your hand when I called your name?"
What's this Pat business, I wondered. I sat down, red-faced. She must be right, I mean, she was the teacher and all.
This Pat stuff, I soon realized, would never end. Every year a new teacher would read out the class list, and I would wait, hoping that maybe this time the teacher would get it right. But no. Here was my old nemesis, Pat Thornton, back for another year to torment me. Notes from my mother telling the teacher that my name wasn't Pat became as much a part of my back-to-school routine as the September shoe sale at Woolworth's. And what was worse, my dad was in a business that moved him around a lot, so we were transferred from city to city, and hence, from school to school. Even in the middle of term, meaning Pat would sometimes show up twice a year.
Now Pat is a lovely, sensible name, and a lot of people fill it in quite nicely. However, I am not now, nor will I ever be a Pat! The end! I decided to surrender Patricia, and become Tricia. And wouldn't you know it? People started calling me Teresa. Yup, Teresa! Okay, then, I said, let's make it easy for these simpletons. I became Trish. No big mouthful of a name, no phonetically challenging I-C-I-A ending to deal with. Well. My tenth grade biology teacher called me TREESH for the first month of school. It wasn't until I handed in a test paper with TRISH as in DISH in the top corner that he got the message.
I just can't win. If I make an appointment or reservation over the phone, I tell them it's for Trish Thornton. Which somehow gets translated to Chris Forten. CHRIS FORTEN?? Gimme a frickin' break! So I give in, and the next doctor's appointment I make, I'm Patricia Thornton. And when the appointment time comes, there she is again, as the nurse says to me, "Hello, Pat, the doctor will see you in a minute." UGH!!
You know, I could start in on the abuse my last name takes too, like the forgotten first 'N' in Thornton, but no doubt you would suggest that I was quibbling. Rest assured, I'm finished now. And I'm signing off.
Love and kisses,