How I got my name
In the late 1970’s, my mother — visibly pregnant with me — was hitchhiking in rural North Carolina. Leading my three-year-old sister Karina by the hand, they climbed into the back of a stranger’s pickup truck.
With my father out of town, they couldn’t reasonably ride his Honda Hawk motorcycle on their own to visit relatives. Thus, hitchhiking was the only option (beyond the obvious answer of simply staying home).
Music streamed out of the truck’s cab, and the lyrics of “Angie” by The Rolling Stones reached my mother’s ears. Never mind that the song is about a couple calling it quits; she instantly took a liking to the name and decided that if her newborn was a girl, that is what she would be called.
If I had grown up to become a huge Stones fan, it would have been serendipitous. Since I’m not — and because the song isn’t about a heartwarming subject — it just doesn’t resonate with me.
People my parents age spontaneously break out into the chorus of “Angie” when I tell them how I got my name. Millennials say they aren’t familiar with that particular song (could they name even one Stones song? I wonder).
I’ve never cared for my name (no offense to anyone who shares it). It’s simply too short. If I were an Angelica or Angela, then I would get called Angie. But with no way to poetically shorten my name any further, I get called “Ang” — a terribly uncool moniker — by family members.
I’ve often wished that just about any other song was on the radio at that critical decision-making moment: Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl), Michelle, Wake up Little Susie, etc.
Angie lacks the magnificence of a three or four-syllable name (like Bernadette or Katarina), the daintiness of a single-syllable name (like Elle or Anne), and the intrigue of a purposely misspelled take on an existing name (like Cerra or Maddyson). I’d even accept something unusual that sounds like my parents spun a baby name-themed Wheel of Fortune and wound up landing on Pilsner or Jessup.
I feel limited by a name that doesn’t command respect. I’m certainly not going to become President with a name this casual. If I was a Nikita, I would be participating on American Gladiator. If I was a Kyrien, I’d be a pop star. If I was a Lexi, I’d be a celebrated artist. And if I was a Lorraine, I’d have a PhD in nuclear physics.
I realize I could legally change my name to anything I like, but at this point I’m middle aged and already settled into mediocrity. Plus, it would be so much pressure trying to settle on just the right name that captures the essence of my personality.
Such as it is, I have precisely the sort of name that sounds like it was chosen by a hitchhiking hippie. If I could send a message back through time, I would advise my mother that it’s best to leave life’s big decisions for when one is home, practicing mindfulness, instead of riding in the back of a stranger’s pickup truck.