Friday, November 03, 2006



Recently, I had the following conversation with a bank teller:

Teller (reading my name): "Emmelyn. Hmmm. That's an interesting name. Did your mom just like, make it up or something?"

Me: "Um-"

Teller: "Or is it a combination of Emily and Emma?"

Me: "Well-"

Teller: "Or Evelyn and Emmaline?"

Me: "It's-"

Teller: "Or are you named after someone or something?"

Me: "I-"

Teller: "Huh. Emmelyn. What an interesting name."

Now, before I go any further, I'd like to take this opportunity to state that I understand that it's probably part of Teller Training (TT) to chat up customers while processing their requests. And I'm cool with that. I'm down with that. I don't mind bank personnel asking me how my day's going, what the weather's like outside, or if I've just requested $10 in quarters because it's laundry day. (Although sometimes, when they ask the quarters question, I want to stare at them and say: "No, the quarters aren't for laundry. I just like to pay for everything in quarters." or "It is absolutely none of your business why I need these quarters.")

But seriously, folks, is the name Emmelyn really that interesting? Interesting enough to warrant four inquiries as to its origin? Seriously? Surely there are many names out there that are far more deserving of such interest.

That said, I enjoy having a unique name. I'm glad that it's just unique enough, and not a "what were your parents thinking" kind of unique. When I'm introduced to people for the first time, I usually have to a) repeat my name several times and then spell it per their request, or b) correct them after they've called me Emily, Emmaline, Emmalou, Evelyn, or AmyLyn (or, in one memorable instance: Bemmalyn). If I don't feel like doing either of those things, I just tell them my name is Emmie, like the award. (Although Emmie, while simpler, is no hassle-free guarantee: After giving my name to a restaurant host on two separate occasions, I've looked down to discover they've written "Bemmie" and "Memaie", respectively. So perhaps the fault lies not in various restaurant hosts, but within myself. Am I inadvertently putting a "b" sound before my "eh" sounds? Next time you talk to me, please let me know. You'll be doing me and restaurant personnel a great service.)

Anyway, because I know what it's like when people mangle one's name, I try to pay very close attention when someone tells me their name, so that I can make sure I don't mispronounce it. Of course, the fact that I forget that person's name mere minutes (and sometimes seconds) later is the topic for a whole 'nother blog; a blog entitled: "Why I Can Remember Entire Monologues From Plays I Did In High School But Not My Relief Society President's Name: One Woman's Personal Journey." (And since that blog title has a colon in it, there's hope that it might some day be made into a Lifetime original movie.)

One more thing I'll tell you about my name: my pre-marriage initials were ET. That meant that when I was in the sixth grade, and Steven Spielberg made a movie about a glowy-fingered alien of the same name, my classmates thought my initials were HILARIOUS. I remember one particular time in grade school when I had gone to the office to call my mom, and two boys from my class saw me on the phone and yelled "ET Phone Home!" and then ran away laughing hysterically and high-fiving each other.

Sixth graders are so interesting.

12 comments:

This is me said...

The least the bank teller could have done is let you actually answer her questions. Then, maybe should could have found out and would have been able to stop guessing. You would think that people would be able to handle my name (it's Susan) but I'm ALWAYS asked if I like Susie or Suz or if it's pronounced Suzanne. Just trust me on this one, folks. It is MY name, after all!

c jane said...

This reminds your of that "Emmie like the award" NYC post.

Love your writing. AND I think you have a lovely name.

Mom said...

Thank you.

Signed,

The person who made up Emmelyn's name even though she herself had suffered all her life with an "interesting" made-up name and determined not to do it to her own children but then Emmelyn just seemed so mellifluous, and the Y looked so cool along with the Y in Thayer (and the name therefore does not rhyme with "fine" except when her father calls her EmmelineFine), though by the time she got to the next one, spelling Katherine with an I seemed the more elegant choice (and no one would say Kather-ineFine), which is perhaps why it's Emmie and not Emmy (like the award)

Emmie said...

Susan,
People asking if your name is pronounced "Suzanne" reminds me of a girl I knew whose name was spelled "Charlotte" but she insisted everyone pronounce it "Care-lotta."

C Jane,
I think YOU are lovely.

Mom,
Thank you for my name.

P.S. It seems that you are prejudiced against people whose names rhyme with "fine." Also, if my nickname is spelled with an "ie", why does grandma always spell it with a "y"?

Phoebe said...

I am astounded at how many people call me C.B. after I have told them my name is Phoebe. As though C.B. is a more popular name.

And I guess I better say that I love your blog and I can't exactly remember how I got here, but it might have been through Darlybird.
The End

AzĂșcar said...

I love your name; it is so beautiful and it suits you.

I think the glottal stop at the beginning of your name makes people hear a harder consonant, like "b."
I find that the harder I try to remember a name, the faster I forget it.

Emily said...

You do have a perfect name, but you have to admit the ET phone home joke was clever and just a little bit funny, no?

Emmie said...

Hi, Phoebe! So nice to meet you!

AzĂșcar,
You are as sweet as your name. And I think you're right about the glottal stop. (Stu was all "What's a glottal stop?" and I was all "Ha! You don't know what a glottal stop is?" and he was all "Shut up! I know about differential equations!")

Emily,
Okay, I'll admit that the ET phone home joke was actually pretty clever, and it makes me giggle a little when I think of it. But don't tell anyone I said that.

This is me said...

Emmie: I have to barge in and comment again because it seems we have made a round-about connection of sorts. My husband saw your comment on my blog and so clicked over to your blog and discovered that he actually knows you. He was roommates with C.K. back in the day at BYU (in the big, white house). He says you were cool. High compliments, no? Anyway, his name is Brian. You may or may not remember him. So, nice to meet you.

Emmie said...

Small world, this blogosphere! I do remember Brian, and I remember he was cool. (Nice to meet you, too!)

compulsive writer said...

You do have a beautiful name, but I also feel your pain, sister-friend-from-the-secret-society-of-people-with-unusual-and-made-up-names. Not only do few people pronounce my name correctly upon reading it, but--starting in about the 6th grade--many people also loved to make fun of my maiden name which, well, rhymes with "sex."


Respectfully yours,

Dalene
(the "r" is silent)

Noelle said...

"I toooo feel your pain", or so my boyfriend says to me everytime he tries to sympathize. At least people didn't say, "Why are you here? Don't you know it's not christmas yet?"

Miss you,
Noelle