Hi. My name is Michael Ann. Yes, Michael. Ann. Like Mary Ann, but Michael instead. Yes, like the boy's name.
My name was supposed to be Melissa. Isn't that nice?? But mom changed her mind at the last minute while watching her favorite tv show, "Dr. Kildare." There was a nurse character named Michael Ann, and I guess that just tickled mom's fancy, and she changed her mind only days before I was born. Curse Dr. Kildare!
All my life I've had to suffer through the same questions by well-meaning strangers.
"Are you sure it isn't Michelle?"
Uh, yea, I'm sure.
"Did your parents want a boy?"
No, they already have one.
"Are you named after your dad?"
No, my brother is, and his name is Peter.
Grr.... I understood their curiosity. I understood my name was unusual. But I was just a kid for goodness sake. I just wanted to be normal. To fit in. Why couldn't I have a name like Susan or Debbie or Kathy like all the other girls?
When I was in high school, I had the idea to change the spelling of my name. I thought maybe that would make it seems less unusual, or less "boy." I changed the spelling to Mykle. Um...yea, I know. That didn't really help. In fact I think it made it worse. So I changed it back to Michael, causing even more confusion. When I was in college, someone in my dorm started calling me Mickey, and others followed suit. I didn't really love it, but I thought it was better than dealing with all the Michael questions. After awhile, that nickname grew on me and I liked that most people didn't even know my real name was Michael. Mickey suited me--it's cheerful and spunky, exactly like me. :-) My college friends still call me Mickey.
That was fun while it lasted, but when I got my first job out of college, I decided it was time to let go of Mickey, and embrace my adult self and the name that I came with. I decided to reclaim it with pride. Yes, I am Michael Ann! That's my name and don't wear it out! Oh, did I say "adult?"
Now days, having an uncommon name is not, well, uncommon. In fact it seems to have become desirable. The weirder, the better. Children with names like Apple and Rocket probably won't experience what I did while growing up. Different has become the norm. Kind of defeats the purpose huh? Better off choosing a name like John or Ann. Now THAT will really be unique!
I would like to give this story a happy ending and say that as an adult, I am finally learning to accept and even appreciate my special name, but honestly, I still struggle with it. Maybe I just can't shake my history. I know I could go and have it legally changed...but I've never been willing to go that far. That just somehow seems wrong. It wouldn't be ME.
Wait a minute. Me. Yes....I guess Michael Ann really does feel like me. It should after all these years, huh? Ok, I admit, it hasn't been ALL bad. I have had my share of compliments too. And I have to tell you, when I am introduced to someone and they immediately say, "What a lovely name!" it completely makes my day!
I realize in the grand scheme of things, this is a minor issue, but I'm still going to tell the Starbucks barista my name is Michelle.
Do you have an unusual name?
I leave you with this song.