Has anyone ever gotten your name wrong? I mean, really, really wrong?
Listen, I once allowed a woman to call me “Whitney” for eight years. It wasn’t a big deal, really—I didn’t see her often, and she was awfully nice, and Whitney was close enough that the only bother was remembering to answer her when she called me by name. I mean, her version of my name.
The longer this farce went on, the more weird it would seem if I turned around to this woman and suddenly said, “You know what? My name is actually Courtenay.”
I needn’t have worried. Eight years later, I was sitting in an airport bus headed for an Irish stepdance and music thing with ten other people from my dance school. While we were bouncing around the back on bad shocks, that lovely woman leaned forward and put her hand on my shoulder—”Whitney, here—”
“WHITney?” Someone roared from the very back. “Her name is COURTenay.”
“Oh. OH! Is this true, Whitney?” She emitted a small embarrassed laugh. “—Courtenay.”
The lights from the street lamps crisscrossed my knees as we drove into the city. “You were just so nice.” I worked my hands in the air, trying to conjure an exact explanation. “I just didn’t know how to tell you.”
I was a month shy of 18 when I had that conversation in an airport van with a woman who accidentally called me Whitney for eight years. My life lay before me in so many strange trips to so many cities with so many people who didn’t know my name, that this moment seemed like a blip. And who can call someone to fault for misnaming you when it was your own correction to make?
And besides,Courtenay is not actually my “real” name.
Courtenay is my nickname. Almost nobody knows this. In essence, my mother gave me two first names to do with as I wished. And my wish has been to keep one of my names somewhat secret.
Why am I bringing this up now? Today’s story is all about names! Names: Some Secret, Some Not!