nametag“You have a boy’s name.”
“Did your parents want a boy?”
“Your last name is spelled wrong.”

I have a unique name. I love it now, but I didn’t always.

“Michael-Anne Rubenstien, get in here this instant!”

For starters, I think we’re negatively conditioned as children to fear our full names. I don’t know about you, but getting called by my full name meant Significant Trouble. The kind with Consequences.

My name has a couple of other interesting complexities. First, it’s hyphenated. You have no idea how difficult this concept is for people to grasp.

“How do you spell that?”
“Michael hyphen Anne.”
“I’m sorry?”
“M-i-c-h-a-e-l hyphen A-n-n-e”
“Hyphen?”
“Dash.”
“Oh.”
I occasionally toy with the idea of throwing in an umlaut, just for laughs.

My nickname – Mickey – brings another layer of hilarity to the mix.

“Like the mouse?”
“Like the mouse.”
<muffled giggle>

“Oh Mickey, you’re so fine!”
“Yes, thank you. You’re very clever.”
“You’re so fine you blow my mind, hey Mickey!”
“Please stop.”

I’ve gotten mail for Michael A., Michaelan, Michaela, Michelle and Nikki Riverstein, Rubenstein and Rubinstein. The best spelling ever still goes to Hallmark, who once sent me a xochiGold Crown card in the name of Xochiquetzal Rubenstitn. It’s like the person entering the information just gave up and started typing with their face.

I was accepted to one of my top college choices as a male. I appreciated their willingness to welcome me as a student even though they lacked confidence in my ability to specify my own gender on the intake forms. Whenever I call to get information about my accounts – banks, phone, insurance – I’m invariably told that my husband will need to call back himself. This happened long before I was married.

I had a language professor in college who insisted I was spelling and pronouncing my own name wrong. Both the first AND last name. Wrong wrong wrong.

“You are not a boy, therefore your first name is Michelle.”
“Okay. In French, it sounds like Michelle.”
“No, I mean it should be Michelle.”
“Well, I’m not sure what to tell you.”
“And you are either spelling or pronouncing your last name wrong.”
“My parents will be delighted to hear this.”
“You do not amuse me.”

When I married and changed my name to Gomez, I thought things would be easier. Forms with little boxes for first and last name would no longer run out of spaces. I wouldn’t have to debate people on the spelling of my last name.

“Name?”
“Mickey Gomez.”
“You do not look like a Gomez.”
“What does a Gomez look like?”

Now I receive mail written in Spanish, especially during election season. I’ve been invited to serve on a variety of boards seeking my cultural perspective. I’ve received mail for Mickey Goomes, Micket Gomer and M. Gonzalez.

I’ve been forced to the realization that I will never be free of name explanations, but such is life. In this age of babies named Hashtag and Apple, my name doesn’t seem quite as complicated anymore. But it is still unique. And you know what? I love it.

Sincerely,

Michael-Anne “Mickey” “Mickety” “Xochi” “Hey You” Rubenstien Gomez