Category: Gay Cioffi
By Gay Cioffi
As the youngest in my family of five, I am the only one who was not named for a grandparent or beloved aunt or uncle. As it happened, I was named for a fondly remembered childhood acquaintance of my mother.
While not only was breaking from that family tradition the cause of a bit of a stir, and it wasn’t a saint’s name to boot (also an expected practice) nothing prepared my parents or me for the fallout to come as I grew up with the name “Gay” in the fifties and sixties.
I remember hearing my mother’s account of the reaction she got from family members regarding her disregard for how children in the family were traditionally named. I also recall that she wavered a bit between the names Gay and Joy, but again the real controversy began in my later teens when the word “gay”, came to represent more than a synonym for happy or carefree.
By Gay Cioffi
Just as in real estate where the three most important things are: LOCATION… LOCATION…. LOCATION, when bestowing a name on a baby the three most important things are: PRONUNCIATION… PRONUNCIATION… PRONUNCIATION.
As a person whose last name is almost never pronounced correctly, Cioffi (the Ci is like Ch and …oh, if only I had a buck for every time I have had to say that!!), I know that navigating the social territory of “when and how often to correct” those who mispronounce it is tricky, to say the least. I had a third grade teacher who pronounced it KEY-OFF and I cringed every time I was called on for the entire school year.
By Gay Cioffi
When my son was about to be born, close to thirty years ago, there were very few resources for parents-to-be to turn to for ideas for names. Nothing as wonderful as Nameberry, for sure! As a veteran nursery school teacher of ten years, I had the added challenge of having favorite names already taken by my many students. I loved the name Oliver, but I would forever associate it with one of the adorable boys in my first nursery school class. And as the youngest in a family of three brothers and a sister, my older siblings had also gotten to favorites of mine, before I was even of childbearing age. I will never forget the phone call from my mother announcing that my sister Ann had just delivered a new baby girl and that she was naming her Jennifer. I went completely silent as I stood in the hallway of my college dorm. “What’s wrong?” my mother asked. I hesitated, but finally confessed that I was hoping someday to have a daughter named Jennifer. Of course, when I reached my sister by phone later that day I had only enthusiasm for the news of a new niece and her beautiful name.