Wednesday, February 6, 2008

All In A Name

Grandpa & Grandma; Alexander & Catherine, circa WW II

My Dad called his parents Ma and Pa. We kids called them Grandma and Grandpa. They were both tough and stern. I wish I could remember Grandpa. He died just a little over a year after I was born. My folks told me I made him smile and that I was the “apple of his eye”. As a result, I always felt very close to him. When it came time for me to choose a Roman Catholic confirmation name, I threw myself into the decision with all the intensity of a typical adolescent. I pored over what I knew of the family names. I made lists, crossing names out, whittling them down. There was Winifred, Mercedes, Marion, Catherine and Augusta. There was also Edward, Mervyn, James, Alexander, Patrick and Owen. In the end, I chose Alexandra, the feminine diminutive of my father’s father, Grandpa. I liked the name Alexandra. It struck me as both strong and feminine. My given name was Lee Ann, but by the age of sixteen and my confirmation, I had long since dropped the Ann and was known by my friends simply as Lee. Lee being both a man’s and a woman’s name also suited me in the early 1970s, what with social upheaval and the women’s liberation movement. I was far from androgynous, but liked the idea that, on paper at least, I could be anyone, male or female.

Three and a half decades later I started a blog called Pink Granite, with the explanation: “Pink may be a girly-girl color, but granite is strong, solid and durable.” Some things never change...


dancingmorganmouse said...

I too have a name many people assume is a boy's. I remember someone calling me about a job application I had sent in, asked to speak to Morgan, I replied that they were speaking to Morgan. Oh, was the response, I thought you were a man.
Is that going to be a problem? I asked. The time lapse before he said, no, assured me the real answer was yes :)

Pink Granite said...

Hi DMM -
These mostly male/unisex names can provide moments of great insight. I find it interesting how often letters to me are addressed "Mr. Lee..." And now that same sex marriage is legal here in Massachusetts, I wonder if Chuck and I are ever assumed to be a gay couple!
- Lee