What’s in a Name?

First of all, as you read this, please don’t worry about me, you don’t need to call a therapist. I’M OKAY.


It’s just that I’m grappling with envy.

No, not that kind of envy. Name envy.

In a big way, too.

You see, my parents, god love ‘em, decided to saddle me with perhaps the most yawn-producing name in the world. Becky Green. Not even Rebecca. Just plain old Becky.

To top it off, they decided to give me a darling middle name: Sue. I’m guessing they never thought I’d grow up, or perhaps they didn’t ever want me to grow up. Sorry mom and dad, I’m diss’ing you and you’re not even alive anymore to defend yourselves. I’m sure I’ll be going to hell in a hand-basket for that one.

But here I am, a grown woman with the name Becky Sue. Isn’t that sweet? It makes my fillings hurt just typing it.

The topper, though, is that nobody ever remembers my adorable name.

I’m either Betty or Betsy, Debbie or Vicky. Or my favorite, Bicky (when somebody can’t remember if I’m Becky or Vicky).

This “name thing” has been an ongoing joke for years with people closest to me. And I’ll tell you, there’s cheap entertainment in making fun songs out of my various names:

Try this for example…dance around the room and belt out, “Betty Sue’s got a new pair of shoes….” Well, you might have to throw back a few cocktails in order for that to tickle your funny bone like it did so many times with my former college roommate, Janet, and me.

Then do your best Buddy Holly impersonation and tell that “PPPPPeggy Sue” to move over, because it’s really BBBBBicky Sue who has it going on!

My all-time favorite name though, came to me from across the Atlantic. A German photo editor I worked with several years ago bestowed it upon me. As her fax came dribbling out of the fax machine, I barely got past the first line before I began howling. It simply read, “Dear Betty Grimm.” It was too funny to bother correcting her, so to this day, I’m still known as Betty Grimm to a few of my favorite people.

Thankfully, there’s always room for a new twist. Recently, I joined a women’s writing organization called She Writes, and somehow my blog information got listed under Bobby Green Aaronson. I suppose I should try to have that corrected, but all I can do is chuckle, knowing how classic it is. Maybe I should at least have them add the Sue, so it would be Bobby Sue Green Aaronson.

And the Green Aaronson? I grappled with that too. Forever, I used my maiden name professionally so Jeffrey and I wouldn’t seem like a “ma and pa operation.” Most clients didn’t even know we were a couple. But then sweet Olivia came along and I wanted us all to have the same last name. So then I dropped the Green. But when I began writing, I realized most people would still know me by Green. So then I got neurotic and added the Green back in with Aaronson. Are you confused yet?

Good, then it’s obviously time to move on.

I think I need to start taking lessons from several creative types I know. One woman I know goes by the name Trixi. She’s a fit, artistic, firecracker mom of four. When asked about her name, she explained that it wasn’t her given name. “For many years my professional work required me to go to conventions where we wore name tags for networking. It was so boring I decided to spice it up. One time I wrote the name Trixi on my badge. The name stuck, and I’ve been Trixi ever since.”

The last time I did something like that was when I told the barista at Starbuck’s my name was Lulu.

Then there’s my writing mentor, Cork Millner. Who doesn’t love and remember a name like Cork? Especially when he’s a writer and a wine aficionado.

My husband, Jeffrey, is also good with names. Whenever he signs up for a store saver card or anything that requires personal information, he creates a new persona. In case you are wondering, not only do I live with Jeffrey, but also the elusive Jack French.

I’ve often thought about giving myself a memorable pen name, but then nobody would know that it was me blathering on about important things like names.

So for now, I guess I’ll continue to be Betty, Betsy, Debbie, Bicky Vicky Sue…even if it’s tempting to be Sophia LaStrange or Madeleine Duvall.

That is unless you have a pen name I can’t resist!

Send me your best!

25 thoughts on “What’s in a Name?

  1. I personally like Becky Grimm. Really has a history to it… This post is sweet and funny. The only real question I’d worry about is “what domain name can you buy.” That’s how to decide what to call yourself.

  2. With a name like Bobby Sue you could always move to Nashville and become a struggling country and western singer who has an uncanny way with words. No more of the ‘you left sawdust on the floor of my heart’, nor the plaintive confession, ‘it took 23 beers to forget you.’!

    Oh what’s in a name?! The protagonist of my novel-in-progress is called Jane, a simple, plain, dull, resigned sort of name for a young woman who suddenly finds herself in the lush, mystical, magical country of Morocco searching for her estranged father. Everyone and everything around her is imbued with danger and chaos and magic. All around the deeply spiritual and religious fall from grace. So there is nothing simple and plain about Jane’s quest and as she journeys towards her goal, she transforms from the plain, dull, resigned young woman who left America and, in the process, is given a new name by a magical, mystical Nigerian flower seller on the lam from the authorities and a new life when she finds out the truth about her long lost father. SO much rides on a name!

  3. Becky, Becky, Becky. What a story! Who would think there are so many ways to get your name wrong?? The important thing is you have such a sense of humor about it. I remember in the movie, Clueless, they used the name, “Betty,” as a term to signify someone’s cute, gorgeous and all that. So when they call you Betty, you should just say, “Thank you!”

  4. OMG; I started laughing so hard out loud when I read the “Bicky” and of course, the “Betty Grimm.” For the record, you are very memorable, boring name be damned. I, of course, with the given name of Christine (which I like better now, thank you Jeffrey), always referred to myself as Chris or Chrissy. And as far as my middle name? Well, I would usually just let people know that it was “normal.” Make that Norma; I always hated that name. At least my parents didn’t name me “Moon Unit”……

  5. Beautiful piece of writing Becky (I am not going to change your name, you should thank me for that :) . I really enjoy reading this one. This post is as beautiful as your other posts, without even having Jeffrey’s beautiful photographs. So you deserve all the credits. Yes i also go through this same situation, when someone call me with a different name. Although my name’s meaning is “a person Who can beat his enemy”. But as it is a word from Sanskrit language, so people find it very difficult to remember it. And they call me with a name, which i do not even know it’s mine. :) And it really hurts.
    Lastly I never ever thought that, someone can write something on this name game. But you not only did it, but also you did it with a great style.

    • Arindam, glad you enjoyed it. I like to laugh about things like this. Perhaps I should make up a story about the meaning of my name. I like the meaning of yours, “a person who can beat his enemy.” I’ll have to think of a good one. Could be another post!

  6. This was fun Becky! However, I seem to recall when we were on the junior high track team together at good ole Broadway Middle School, they never once mangled your name over the loud speaker. I have yet to figure out how you get “Stacy Boozer” from “Stephanie Bowser.” Lol. As always, thanks for a wonderful blog. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

    • Ah, I am laughing BIG right now, STACY BOOZER! Perhaps the announcer had thrown a few back before the meet and had booze on the mnind. Happy Thanksgiving to you as well! I love it when you drop by my blog and let me know you were here!

  7. OOOH, how about Summere Raine? The extra “e’s” will make it seem like a real name. I think you would have to write romance novels, though. “I closed my eyes as Jeffrey came closer. I knew that soon his ripe, full lips would be touching mine. Then, from seemingly nowhere, he pulled out a camera and took my picture. What the hell, I thought.” by Summere Raine

  8. At least you didn’t get the middle name I was saddled with. My parents did all right with my first name: Jessica. But to choose an old family name for my middle name was far too much for me to handle as a kid. I was so embarrassedI that iyou never toldforgive a soul! Even now I cringe when someone asks me what it is. I’m revealing it now in honor of you, Becky: WILMUTH. Oh the shame!

  9. What a fun way to wake up this morning, to be able to read your post Becky Sue. Well, my name is actually Sue but many people call me Beth. Why? Because my last name is McBeth, so when I introduce myself as Sue McBeth, they remember the last sound they heard, so I answer to Beth just as often as I do to Sue.

  10. In a creative writing course in college, we were supposed to bring in an example of an up and coming new poet. I wrote poetry at the time, too, so created the pen name Lee August using my middle name and my birth month. Under that name, I read two of my poems. When I was done, the professor asked for those who had read any of Lee August’s work to raise their hands. No one did, because he did not exist! I was about to reveal all when the professor claimed that she had read much of Lee’s writing and was a big fan. To this day, I have kept my mouth shut. I mean, really, what could I say?

      • No, No, Sue January is good! I like it! Now, April January would be a good name for a stripper and June January for a 5th grade school teacher. Yep, January is a versatile last name!

      • You are a funny man!! Staying away from stripper names for now, but Sue January does kind of remind me of a Joe Friday type. Perhaps I should lean more toward seasons or weather…Summer or Autumn…or Rain or Stormy…

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