What’s in a name?

Last night I went to my old stomping grounds for the weekly Sunday night dinner with the neighbors. When I got there, the place was at 99% humidity from all the cookin’, and  it smelled of divine hamburgers, compliments of Chris (this week’s chef).

As we were sitting around shooting the bull, I mentioned that I’d been on a date last week with a guy named Rhett. Everyone immediately started quoting Gone with the Wind with ridiculous southern accents and acted like they were fainting. (Fainting from massive jealousy, that is.)

Robyn said she was reading Gone with the Wind when she went into labor with her second child, so she named her Melanie.

And then we started talking about how we all got our monikers.

Amy was born in Spain (to a John Deere employee from Iowa), and to pay homage to the birth locale, her mother wanted to name her Maria. After someone kindly reminded her that “Maria” didn’t really go with her Midwest surname, they decided on Amy.

Vera was named after her great aunt.

Gretchen’s mom wanted to name her Miranda, but the nurse scoffed.

Tanya was named for Tanya Tucker — who she’d never heard of.

And Robyn was named after a character on a soap opera (who had an expedited childhood to become an adult before Robyn reached kindergarten).

So tonight I was talking to Dad, and I asked how I became Nelly. I knew my “near miss” name was Holly Christine — but given that another little girl born on the same day as me who lived a quarter mile down the road with the exact same last name was named Molly, it seemed they would have to find another name. (Even weirder — my parents not only had the same last name as these folks, but our moms had the same birthday, and my parents hosted them for spaghetti the night before we were born.)

Ever the procrastinators, my parents didn’t have a contingency plan. Dad claims I went nameless for a couple days while they deliberated. (Even worse with my brother, they picked up a baby name book on the way to the hospital.)

Indeed, my life was ultimately informed by the Young and the Restless. Mom took a liking to the name of one of the Brooks sisters, which she granted to me. But “C” wouldn’t do for a middle initial — so they opted for the spelling “Kristine”.

For what it’s worth, Dad’s vote for my first name was “Audra”, Linda Evans’ character in The Big Valley.

Holly? Audra? I think I like Nelly.


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