Tag Archives: Social Security Administration

What’s in a Name?

Image by CCXPistiavos from Pixabay.

How did your parents select your name?

Perhaps you, like Hubby and I, are a Baby Boomer. Tradition ruled, and many infants were named after parents and grandparents. Later, the plethora of Juniors and Roman numerals would confuse every computer on the planet.

One-syllable, biblical boys’ names often prevailed, e.g. John, Mark and James. Hubby, one of thousands of Stephens (also biblical), always met other Steves at school.

Image by Oberholster Venita from Pixabay.

According to the Social Security Administration, the top 1950s names for baby girls included Mary, Linda, Deborah and Susan. My schools teemed with them. I met only two other Rachels, their names spelled differently from mine. Pastors’ daughters too. Sigh.

My mother, Betty, disliked associations with Betty Grable and other brazen hussies of her era. Her children’s names would be biblical and different.

We were different, all right. No respectable Boomer bore names like Nathanael, Rachael, Aaron and Jonathan.

Yet, Mom named our sister after a singer, Janis Paige. Why couldn’t I have been named after Debbie Reynolds? Instead, I received not only a little-old-lady name, but Mom handed me an additional “a,” as in “Rachael.”

The nurse “helping” her with my birth certificate frowned. “Not the correct spelling.”

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.

I want it spelled that way.”

Later, Mom told me I was “Rachael.” I spelled my name her way into adulthood.

When I applied for a passport, though, I discovered my birth certificate said “Rachel.” That “a” provoked hostility that rivaled the Cold War’s. Eventually, I plowed through bureaucracy to pay for the name Mom gave me.

My mother may have borne the popular name, “Betty,” like pin-up Betty Grable, but no movie-star names for her kids!

Then Jennifer Aniston played a character named Rachel in Friends. During 1990, “Rachel” rated 15th in girls’ names.

When Rachael Ray hosted cooking shows, even computers stopped rejecting me as an alien.

Nowadays, in grocery stores when a stern mother commands, “Rachael, put that down,” I still cringe and return the squash I was planning to purchase to its shelf.

I miss my name’s uniqueness. Maybe I could smear it with individuality: ®àĉhæɬ.

Recalling the Great A Controversy, maybe not. Such a hassle over one silent letter.

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay.

Shakespeare, whose name has been spelled 80-some different ways throughout the centuries, would agree. “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

I bet the IRS didn’t like him, either.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: If you changed your name, what would it be?