Daily Prompt: Tell Me Your Name

Write about your first name: Are you named after someone or something? Are there any stories or associations attached to it? If you had the choice, would you rename yourself?

Daily Prompt

To be born in a country where boting, bictory and beranda replaced voting, victory and veranda, respectively, being called Belbet instead of Velvet can be quite frustrating.  Frustrating enough that by the third time that I’d hear people say my name as Bobet, Bebet and even Melbet, I tell them that they can call me Beth.

Just Beth.

At home, no one called me Velvet either for my nickname was Bobits – which was all fine and dandy till the day a certain Lorena hacked off a part of her husband’s anatomy and tossed it out of the car window.

Suddenly, Bobits just didn’t sound so fine and dandy anymore.

It wasn’t especially so to my then-husband, Richard, either, who didn’t believe in being called Rich, Richie or Dick by anyone.  Neither did he believe that I should be called Bobits, Beth or whatever nickname people in my family had come up for me since I was a child.

Your name, he said, is Velvet and people better start calling you that.  “Do you know how beautiful your name is?”

I shrugged.  How the hell could I know how beautiful my name was when people always butchered it back home, and when I was called by that name, and only in school, it usually meant I did something wrong. 

Besides, there was nothing special about the name, I told him.  “My mom named me after the horse in National Velvet anyway.”

“She told you what?” He asked.

“The horse,” I replied.  “She told me that the horse’s name was Velvet.”

That same evening, Richard popped National Velvet into the player and together we sat down to watch Elizabeth Taylor as Velvet Brown ride a horse named Pie to victory.

I still remember the day my mother called me that weekend, and Richard answered the phone.

“May I speak to Bobits?” She asked.

“There’s no one here by that name,” he replied – and if you were to believe my mother, she will tell you that Richard spoke those words rather coldly. “But there is a Velvet.  Would you like to speak to her?”

I’ll never forget how quickly word spread from New York to Los Angeles and all the way across the oceans to the Philippines, about how everyone, from now on, had to use my real name in certain company, which later meant to include ALL company.

Except, of course, my mother.

11 thoughts on “Daily Prompt: Tell Me Your Name

  1. I applaud your then-husband and you for sticking with it after that.

    The version of my real name used (I have a conventional English name with two typical nicknames) is really important to me to the point that if someone uses a nickname without permission I will correct them (like your then-husband). I *am* my name; I identify with it really strongly. I teach a lot of students with names that fall outside the U.S. norm and they’re always telling me “oh, my name is Tom” or something like that. It happens a lot as well with students named “Mohammed” who often want to be called something else. Because it’s a huge issue to me, I always tell them that they have the right to have me use the name they expect to be called be. It’s amazing to me how few say, “oh, well, then I want to be called Chao” (or whatever).

    And I notice that often when I’m having a hard time taking someone seriously one symptom of the problem is that I can’t remember his/her name.

    Really, it’s one of the only things we have, our name. Calling people by their right name / being called by our right name is a sign of respect, one that we should all demand by the time we’re adults.

    (When we were in trouble as children, we were called by all three names. That was the sign of trouble.)

    Can you tell I feel strongly about this? Can you see how your writing brought forth this surge of reaction? 🙂

    Good for you. You have a beautiful name.

    1. Thanks. He definitely taught me a lot, most of all, to learn how to embrace my name.

      In the Philippines, most everyone has a nickname. You could be named a most awesome name and have the nickname “Baby” or “Pinky” because you’re baby-faced or love Pink, or in the case of my brother in law, “Bing-bing” because he loved to ring the bike bell a lot. Thankfully, that didn’t follow him like it does for most people I know.

      But it was the culture and my mother took pride in my nickname, which she still uses to this day, as well as my dad and my brothers, and the cousins with whom I grew up with. Oh, and my one BFF from grade school days…Eh, that’s life, but it’s okay.

      I just don’t want to hear the name spoken by people I barely know. To them, I’m Velvet, although I had to get used to some students calling me “Teacher” in some of my classes, though the ones who did so were primarily Hispanic, so I don’t know if it’s a cultural thing or not.

      And yes, I agree, it is a sign of respect to acknowledge someone by their name. That’s usually one of the first things that get stripped from victims, to dehumanize them, which is so not cool 😦

  2. I’m glad you managed to reclaim your name! I’ve known a lot of people named “Andrew” or “Stephen” or similar who do NOT appreciate being called “Andy” or “Steve”, even though people still do.
    If I meet someone and they haven’t introduced themselves by name, I always check their preference before randomly shortening their name, or using a nickname just because other people do!

  3. Hi Velvet!
    Great post! I love your name! It purrs off of the tongue. And there really isn’t a way to turn it into a truly derivative “nickname” that you might not like. Snap! Giggles on the whole “bobbits” bit. Priceless!

    My given name was also my 80 year old grandmother’s name. No one else I knew of had my name. I had an “old” person’s name–not good for a little kid growing up around Susans, Anns,and Beths. Ha!

    My name was one syllable, My family always uses it in conjunction with my middle name Lynn. So, two syllables. When I went to college I half wanted to switch to going by Lynn–it sounded so much prettier. And Lynn was a more popular name–at least, “of this century”. Ha! But I didn’t use Lynn.

    But I have come to grips with my name now. Except, I like the “endearing” form of my name that I use now for my nom de plume and web handle, Gratiana. And it is four syllables! Ha!
    Cheers! Grati;->

    1. It’s so interesting how our given names have an impact on how we both perceive ourselves and the world around us, as well as how people perceive us in return. My 97 year old client hates her given name, Eunice, because she says it’s so last century, so she goes by another name that she picked out entirely on her own. She didn’t bother to officially change her name, like some people do. She just wants you to address her with the name she picked out while her official documents remained true to her parents’ choice for her.

      I knew a doctor who officially changed the spelling of his name and combined half of his last name with that of his first wife, which resulted in a totally out of this world name. Then ten years later, he met someone else who did not want a reminder of his ex-wife’s last name as her own when they’d get married so he’s had to change his name again, even after he’s won awards and grants in that name already. Interestingly, there was a lot of crises of of identity and self for him, and I’ve often wondered if it had to do in part with the constant changing of his given name and the denial of his heritage to one that was all new-age, only to return to his given name again, though it makes me wonder if this is now entirely his choice or his new wife’s.

  4. I was named after my dad’s mom (he won in naming me) she was born in 1884. It is a old name, but yet very common, but I do not have a common spelling of it. From the time I was born my mom gave me a nick name that I still use today, but my dad would not have it. He called me my given name till I was 12 then choose to use the nick name.

    What I have problems with is people who shorten your name because they think that what they are calling you is your nick name. I have gone a life time of saying nothing are telling no it this instead. I now will tell them just my given name and leave it at that.

    Good for your then husband for letting you and others know that you have a very lovely name. I do think that at some time or other we all don’t like are names. Son2 was given one name but is called by his first middle name thanks to his 7 year old brother when he was born. He is more than happy to use it and has even told us thank you, as there are 2 other boys in his class with the same first name. My husband will introduce me to people with my given name and he uses it all the time, it is rare that he uses the nick name.

    1. Good for you that you remind people of your given name. Sometimes they just need that little nudge.

      I can definitely thank my ex for showing me how beautiful my name is, and telling everyone in my family to start using it if they wanted to talk to me LOL

      My oldest son is 22 and he prefers a shortened form of his name, while my 3-year old has his name that I picked out long before he was born because it’s my favorite boy’s name of all. And I hate it when people automatically shorten it to be cute. I’ll leave it up to him as he grows older how he wants to be called, but I’ll be damned if other people automatically shorten his name in front of me right now 🙂

  5. It is good to hear that you will not let people shorten your sons name. My SIL was the same way, a friend thought that he could do so and found out no. Son2 goes by his full middle name and only the boys and I can shorten it. My 2 other boys names can’t be shorten, but they both had pet names when they where little, but not now.

    1. Close friends do it anyway. It’s like Mark becomes “markey” to make it cute and husband tells me to just let them be for now, though I always make sure they know that I call my son’s name by his given name. Maybe they’ll get the hint 🙂

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