Monday, August 15, 2011

What's in a Name?

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.


  1. Your practice (so far anyway) of posting a music video along with the blog, was something I thought of many years ago.. thought it would be very neat to provide a soundtrack for my writing, to put people in the mood that I was in while writing whatever i wrote. I meant to tell you that yesterday... how brilliant you are. :)

    When I was in high school, we were to write an autobiography. I did mine sorta like this... wrote a section and then accompanied that section with lyrics from a song that complemented that part of the story. Music always seems to punctuate our experiences..

    Anyway. Nice piece, interesting about your name. (Mickey's always been a favorite name, but I think MA fits you just fine.)

  2. Thanks, Kari, I'm glad you appreciate the music! It just sort of came naturally because I really do connect a song to pretty much anything and everything I'm thinking. It's an illness :-) I'll bet you got an A on that high school paper!

  3. I have only known you as Michael Ann and always run it Together so with the Ann part at the end, that makes it definitely a girl name :) And at least you were not named after your dad... Peter Ann would have been tougher. If I had been a boy, I would be Cecil Arthur. So glad I am a girl.

  4. I love your name Michael Ann! I got stuck with plain Ann...or Annie, and I fall asleep every time I say it. Wish I had a Michael to tack on the front, although it would get annoying if folks asked if my parents wanted a boy. Thats just rude. If it still bothers you I think I'd go back to Mickey. I have a friend named Mickey and I can't think of her as Michaella anymore. Although I love that name too!

  5. Michael Ann, Although I think your name is somewhat unique...I do know another person with that name. She is an Inn Sitter and worked for me a couple of times when I went out of town. BTW, I love the video you included here and the other one on the last post. Is this your favorite kind of music..sort of country/slow rock?? Where do you live, if you don't mind my asking?

  6. Remember A Boy Named Sue? Now, that would be a problem.

  7. LOL! Oh yes, I remember A Boy Named Sue! I should have put that video here :-) Annie, I thought for awhile about going by that name! I think Ann is lovely. Cyn, yea Cecil Arthur is a mouthful :-)Nancy, I live in Davis, Calif. And you know what? I have also met a few other female Michaels and even two other Michael Ann's! The spelling was different. My favorite music is Rock n' Roll, but I love Indie Folk too. The songs I post here are songs that pop into my brain while I'm writing about the topic, so there might end up being other genres too. Thanks for asking and thanks everyone for visiting!

  8. The good thing you have going is that people can say and spell it. Me? I have to spell my entire name and make pronunciation corrections. Though, I've given up on the latter task. If they come come, I go with it. After all these years, I'm exhausted, mellowed out and devoted my time to something more enriching. :-)

    Michael Ann is unique and like myself, you get tired of telling the tale behind it but embrace the difference. People remember what's different. My name's not easily forgotten.

  9. You and Johnny Cash could be singing a Boy Named Sue,together. My name isn't unusual, only some old name from another time. My dad had a thing for a 'B' actress that started in the early Tarzan movies. Lucky me...

  10. My Darling Michael A, I think your name is fabulous... just like you! Cups Up! xoxo

  11. Dropped in to see your blog and love it Michael Ann. I've known another female Michael and thought it was a pretty cool name. My name happens to be Stacia. I always say I am the oldest Stacia in the world as I have met a few younger but never any anywhere near my age. When I was young I was so shy that I would go entire years at school being called Stacy because I wouldn't tell the teacher that wasn't really my name. Long story as to how I got the name but as an adult I have come to love it. Look forward to following your posts.

  12. Thank you Staci and Totsymae. Yes, I can see that you relate to the unusual name thing. Totsymae, you would THINK people could spell and say my name but I still get all kinds of variations. They see the Michael and then the Ann, and it confuses them so they usually say Michelle Ann. Or they HEAR my name, and see that I'm a girl, so they think I must spell it differently. Thank you all for visiting here today!

  13. Oops, Stacia sorry! I left the A off your name! Sheesh. How ironic.

  14. Great post! As a child of the sixties, I received the name 'Jennifer' which has become quite common with women my age! I don't mind. I can relate to your name changing-I've been Jen, Jenny, Jennifer, and still answer to all three (and a few more that I won't post)!

  15. I always call you "MA", but I give everyone nicknames. Never thought of Mickey, tho! But now I know... :)

  16. I love your name! My four year old goes by Gigi (hard g) because her twin brother named her that when they were only a year old. W both get questions about it everyday but she is determined to be Gigi and not Amelia right now. Michael Ann is fab and gives your name a great history!

  17. I guess I can join your mom and be slapped silly, because I named my daughter Randi. She has to deal with, "What did you say your name was, Brandi?" Also, when I would make appointments for her the receptionists always said, "What is his birth date?" I think Randi is unique just like your name (Michael) is unique. One of a kind....


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