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It’s a situation that has occurred many times. I’m in a crowded room, and over the hum of conversation I hear my name being called. Perhaps the average person at this point would perk up and start looking around for the source of the voice, but not me; I ignore it. Now I don’t want to start off by giving you the wrong impression because in all honesty, I’m really not a rude person. However in the almost twenty years I’ve lived with this name, I have learned a thing or two, one of them being that when I hear my name being called, it’s generally not me whose being summoned. And that’s because my name is Katie, as is about a billion other girls born in the late eighties. Add in the similar sounding “Kate’s” and “Kalie’s” and “Kaitlyn’s” to the mix and you would get confused too. This is because calling the name Katie in public is the equivalent to a kid yelling for his mom in a department store---the beckon is bound to evoke a thousand responses. So I find my policy of disregarding the announcement of my name to be quite effective—you can call me anything, just don’t call me late for dinner.
It’s always been an internal struggle of mine to have such a common name. I suppose I should mention at this point that my full name is truly Kathryn, but that my family and friends have always called me Katie. In fact the only person who calls me Kathryn is my mother when she is not so pleased with some bit of trickery I might have pulled and in that instance I am out the door before she can utter the last syllable of my full name. My mother was inspired to name me Kathryn after Katherine Hepburn, the illustrious old Hollywood actress known for being a very strong willed and intelligent woman. Why my mom failed to spell the name the same way is beyond me. The name Kathryn does seem to fit a woman like Hepburn though, who had such a sophistication that I have yet to obtain, or perhaps more fittingly so, yet to desire. Kathryn is a name that I will have to grow into.
But I wouldn’t have had to grow into the name Savannah. Yes, I think it encapsulates me to a tee, capturing my free spirit, my creative nature, my wavy blond locks, my fair skin, my blue eyes. And during role call in school if my name was Savannah, there would be no last initial attached to my name like a caboose, no other letter hovering over my beautiful given name like impending doom. But my mother, despite the fact that she liked that name, thought it was too unique. Thus I was subjected to thirteen years as the public school inmate known as Katie “M”, so as not to be confused with all the other Katie’s.
I suppose I get a little irked about this whole name situation when I look around at my immediate family and realize that I drew the short straw in this instance. First of all my mother’s name is Maryclaire. How many of those do you know? Not many. My dad’s name is Ken, still not a super popular name. Then they go ahead and name my sister Caroline. She is the only Caroline that I know, and although I know that her name is not incredibly unique, I do know that Neil Diamond wrote a horrid little torturous tune in 1969 that makes people of her namesake feel special, and their siblings feel very unexceptional. Let me clarify it once and for all the use of the adjective “sweet” in reference to “Caroline’s” is really just wrong on many levels.
Now I am sure that at this point in my narrative readers with distinctive names are up in arms, because they of course have a strong argument against the atrocities I have endured as one of the millions of Katie’s. But I have heard their pity party, sob story a thousand times, and frankly, I’m just not buying it. It always runs along the same lines, just with added doses of melodrama with each rendition. They walk into a gift shop, or a souvenir store or the like and a cool piece of useless overpriced memorabilia catches their eye. They search through the alphabetized rack of key chains or pencils or mini license plates, only to be disillusioned when they realize that this product does not come with their name on it! Oh well, it’s the price you pay for being one in a million. And what’s the price I pay for being one of the millions? Well five minutes later I walk into the same shop and all the “Katie” key chains are sold out.
Perhaps I ought to bury the bad feelings I harbor for my name. How can I scorn something just because it is common? It certainly doesn’t mean that I am common. To use a very common quotation to legitimize this assertion, I turn to Shakespeare’s heroine Juliet who did indeed pose the question, “What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. Her insight can be seen as both profound and as mere logic. Names define us in a way, yet they simultaneously don’t describe us at all. It is what we are called by, yet just because I have the same name doesn’t mean I am like every other Katie. So what really is in a name? I suppose it’s what you make of it. It is your own choice whether you are to be one in a million or one of the millions, regardless of your given name. If you embrace your name it becomes your own, and it doesn’t matter how many others out there exist, for they cannot compare. So it’s about time that I started embracing my name, and taking a little pride in it.
And on that note, I’ve got to go, because I just heard someone calling my name.