This post was Freshly Pressed on Wed., June 8, 2011. I’m delighted by all the comments but cannot possibly respond to them all. Please know I’m reading and enjoying each one. Thanks for visiting the blog!
People have been getting my name wrong my whole life. Hell, my own parents got my name wrong before I was born. I didn’t stand a chance.
As my mother tells it, she and my birthfather were listening to their Spanish records and fell in love with a song about a kind and beautiful Queen Tamara who was adored by her people. It wasn’t until after I was born that a closer listen dethroned my regal name– the song was about a Queen Samara. So much for swooning subjects.
But they left my name unchanged, and their nominal steadfastness brought with it a lifelong set of inquiries, injustices, and eff-ups.
Right from the start my mother trained me to revile the nickname Tammy. I don’t recall any outright Tammybashing, but I was repeatedly assured that my name was so beautiful in full, any shortening would be a moral travesty. For whatever reason, Tammy in particular was suspect. The family nickname Mari was acceptable, but as its use was confined to one aunt on my father’s side and one uncle on my mother’s, it never gained footing in my greater social circles.
And so, amid my elementary class full of Jennies and Katies and Jessies, I had not only an unpronounceable but also an unshortenable name. (Side note: I had three close friends named Sara[h], and they all swung on the tire swing at recess singing Starship’s Sara, and it really fucking pissed me off.)
With no nickname as recourse, I had to endure– and still do, mind you– all manner of butchering and nauseous humor. Once, attendance was being called on a high school field trip and the chaperone didn’t know what to make of my name: “TAM-ara? Tah-MARE-ah? Tammy? Tam?” she bumbled, until my classmates, tired as I was of the incessant mispronunciation, chorused, “Tah-MAH-rah!”
And still, some hilarious– and by that I mean not at all– joker will hear my name’s correct pronunciation and quip about “yesterday,” ” today,” or “next week” as though he were the first clever fellow to notice the similarity my name bears to the pronunciation of tomorrow.
So, loath to have my name spoken, read, or imagined incorrectly one day longer, I begged the aid of my audio-equipped friend Carter. (Side note: I frequently harass Carter for help, favors, and guidance of varied nature. I like to think of myself as the annoying kid sister he never wished for.) And the fruit of my harassment is this: More svelte than any phonetic spelling, more discernible than any diacritical marks, I give you Tamara, out loud.
Enjoy. And please don’t eff it up.
What’s your name? Do people make a mess of it? And how do you feel about Starship’s Sara? (Careful– I might just push you off a tire swing.)