Thursday, November 20, 2008

When you actually have to sing your name

I was at the supermarket doing some shopping and ordering my Thanksgiving turkey as I do every year for anywhere between 7-16 people. I told the butcher the usual mandatory facts--my size and my name. Um, the turkey size that is. He got the size down but the name, well that was just another song and dance…

I know for fact that my name (that I have lived with my entire life) is more of an unusual name and that people either have never heard of it before—believe it or not—or mistake it for the other two sister-like names: Polly or Molly.

Like this turkey-man who started with a P (for Polly) and I said very politely, but not surprisingly, “No, it’s Holly with an H.” This correcting someone is not new to me, in fact, I have been living with this problem and trauma all my life—trauma? Yeah, really! For instance, whenever a new teacher would be welcomed to my childhood classroom and asked for my name, I would almost be in panic attack mode because I was a very shy girl and I knew that when I told my name to the class that the teacher would, inevitably, say, “What’s your name? Polly?” “No, it’s Holly,” I would say and she would say “What, Molly?” And everyone would laugh and I would be embarrassed. And I would end up being the one who looked stupid—never the other way around. In fact, one of my favorite field trips as a kid was to a newspaper headquarters and it was there that I first discovered that I wanted to work for a newspaper or as a writer when I grew up. I was so excited when this news guy gave us all a newspaper-like page with our names printed on them as a headline—neat! But when I got mine it read Polly Nappi and not Holly. So, not the same, and I was very sad and embarrassed because all my friends wanted to see my paper. I hated my name. And I wondered why I couldn’t have been a Jennifer—everyone knew that name and it wasn’t unusual; in fact, there were probably 50 "Jen's" in my high school alone, next to 30 "Susan's," and 20 "Lisa's," but, of course, no other Holly—I felt like a freak. Still as an adult, I’ve probably only met 2 other Holly.

I know that you’re probably thinking that this is a good thing and makes my name special … and, as an adult, I have come to appreciate that I’m one of a few Holly's, at least in this country.

Anyway, back to the turkey man who wanted me to be Polly. He started again with a P then added an h after and he was waiting for me to help him with the rest—he was clearly confused. I said “H for Holly” once again and he was just stumped and hovered his hand over the "Ph" that he had spelled out. So I had to go to extremes. Standing somewhere between the pork loin and the chicken breasts with this butcher-man draped in blood stained white, I began to sing him a song. Yes, that’s right! I said to him, you know, like the song: have a holly, jolly Christmas; it’s the best time of the year … while swaying my head from side to side appreciating the early Christmas number, and if he made me continue, then I was just going to give up and live with the “Pholly” name and move on. But, to my good fortune and to his chagrin, he finally got that Holly had nothing to do with Polly and, to this moment, I’m still not sure if the song helped, because when he fixed my name it read that I’m Holley. Another common problem to overcome…

And let's not even review the Nappi name (all you people from England, don’t even go there!!)

Note: Holly, The name is derived from the Old English holegn (to prick).

and poisonous too!!

A little fun: What does your name say about you?


Tanya @ Teenautism said...

Wow - even with Holly Hobbie dolls people hadn't heard of your name? When I was in elementary school, my best friend was named Holly, and lots of kids called her Holly Hobbie. She hated it. I think she hated her name too, but I always thought it was pretty. Still do!

When I tell people my name, I often get called Connie. It really amazes me how many people think I'm saying Connie!

Holly Nappi Collins said...

I can't see Tanya and Connie even sounding closely alike--even if you had a bad cold or an accent. Funny! Maybe they are trying to tell you that you should be a Connie because you look like Connie Sellica? Hey, could be!! ;)

By the way, I've always liked the name Tanya. I met one when I was a kid and thought "what a great name." And when I met you through blogging, I thought of that girl and that nice name!!

Tanya @ Teenautism said...

I remember Connie Sellica! Thanks - she's pretty!

Funny that both of our names brought back memories of childhood friends that we had!

Mama Mara said...

Hi Holly, my odd-named sister. You found me, now I found you! I too suffered through childhood. My name is Mara, which people have variously translated into Mary, Maria, Moira, and Mariah. Not to mention that no one ever pronounces it correctly when read. "Is that May-ra?" When I was younger (and dumber), I would respond, "No, it's Mah-ra, like the planet Mars." Which left me with the hateful nickname, Mara from Mars, for years.

I think Holly is a lovely name, by the way. Glad to meet you!

Christina Shaver said...

I used to have a very easy last name: Conway. Sometimes people would get it mixed up with Conrad or Conroy, but there really wasn't a lot of hassle with it.

Then I married a Shaver, and my last name became Shaver. People always want to make it nicer than it sounds pronouncing it Schaffer. "It's Shaver," I say, "just like the razor."

I seriously contemplated naming our youngest Bic, but my husband stopped me. If I had a dog, though...