Category: changing your name
Changing your name is many a name nerd’s ultimate fantasy (right up there with naming a dozen children, including two sets of twins.) What name would you choose, if you could choose anything? And why?
I first considered seriously the whole issue of changing your name at a large, riotous dinner with all my college friends, when the first among us announced she was expecting a baby.
We threw out the usual compliment of ridiculous baby names for her consideration, and then started talking about how we felt about our own names.
It’s time, then, to take matters into my own hands and choose a name for myself. I think, if I had to pick this very minute, I’d become Eliza Bridget Redmond. Eliza because it’s been long and is still my favorite name, modern and classic at the same time; Bridget because it was my beloved grandmother’s name, and one she felt she had to hide when she immigrated to the U.S. as it had become an Irish joke; and Redmond, because, as much as I love my husband and even love his name, I wish I’d never given up my original surname!
If you were changing your name today, if you could wave a magic wand and have total control, what would you choose? And why?
I’d always hated my name. When I was fourteen, I found a book in the library called “The History of Names.” I looked up my given name, Margaret, and was stunned by its derivations. Pages and pages of them, well over 100 versions, often three variations of it for a single country including nicknames like the one I got stuck with…Peggy.
I ran my finger down the endless list until one of them, Greta, stopped me cold. It was a perfect switch: it’s used in England, Sweden, and Germany (a nod to Dad); it was a natural nickname for Margaret (especially if spelled Margret); it ended in “a,” making it feel exotic; with my last name, Goss, it was alliteration and, as for personal stationery, this was a name with graphic sex appeal!
Cradling the book in my hands, leaning back in contentment, my attention strayed to the cover of the book at the top of that day’s heap: a smoldering photograph of Greta Garbo. That did it. I’d found the right answer to my name game. I’d tapped utopia.
Walking home, I thought about how I was going to tell my mother. We’re talking a woman who went wild over every Margaret or Peggy she’d ever met. We’re talking a woman with roots in Massachusetts, a state where they sing “Peg ‘O My Heart” by their first birthday. We’re talking a woman who graduated from college with a class composed entirely of Margarets nicknamed Peggy. This meant I grew up surrounded by a legion of women I called “Aunt Peggy” – which didn’t even include numerous blood relations named Margaret (also called Peggy). Not a Megan, Marge, Maggie or Margo in the bunch. The walk home was uphill. A steep one. I grew less confident with every step.