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?
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.
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.