My name is Dorinda; fairly unusual. I’ve only met a few oth­ers with my name. My mid­dle name is Dar­line.  As a small child I went by the nick­name Dee Dee.  As I grew up it sounded too child­ish and I became just Dee.  I’m not crazy about Dee — it sounds a bit harsh.  I ‘m not crazy about Dorinda either but, at almost 60, I’m using my real name more fre­quently.  I don’t like hav­ing two names — I like to keep things sim­ple.  I actu­ally use three names since my step grand kids all call me Dee Dee.  I like being Dee Dee to them.

My mother got my name from an old movie called “A Guy Named Joe.” It’s a sweet roman­tic war movie, that starred Irene Dunne and Spencer Tracy, and was made in 1944.  She saw it in Eng­land dur­ing World War II.  She liked the name of the Irene Dunne char­ac­ter so much that she wrote it down in a lit­tle book that I still have and said if she ever had a daugh­ter, that would be her name.  She met my dad, a GI, and came to San Fran­cisco.  When I was born she had the name ready for me.

They did a remake of  “A Guy Named Joe” a few years ago.  It was called “Always” and starred Holly Hunter as Dorinda.  It was strange to hear my name called out dur­ing the movie.

My mother was never happy about me short­en­ing my name to Dee.  She thought Dorinda was a lovely name and that I ought to use the name my par­ents had given me.

That’s a bit ironic. My mother’s name was Elsie Joan and she always went by her mid­dle name.  It wasn’t until after her death that my uncle told me her real name was Elsie Flo­rence.  She had sim­ply taken a new mid­dle name years ago and had always gone by that name.  It was kind of dis­turb­ing to find out that I had never known my own mother’s real name.  It made me won­der what other secrets our par­ents never tell us.

One Comment

  • Dorinda’s essay brings up many dif­fer­ent top­ics addressed in the book. She’s drop­ping her nick­name to reflect her more mature self. Mak­ing a name change as an adult is not always easy to do and requires deter­mi­na­tion. Her desire to change her name reflects her sense of development—which she wants reflected by the use of her full name.
    Like other essay­ists, she has a name inspired by a film char­ac­ter, which pro­vides her with links to world his­tory, a lik­able char­ac­ter, and romance.
    Dorinda also describes the strange sen­sa­tion we all have when we first hear our names being used to address some­one else—a reac­tion that goes back to our ear­li­est sense of self.
    And finally she describes a fam­ily name mys­tery. Why did her mother change her mid­dle name? Dorinda might talk with rel­a­tives to dis­cover why or she could write or imag­ine her own story about her mother’s name change. Maybe her mother changed her name to renew her own identity—which can be a very lib­er­at­ing and reviv­ing change as we dis­cover in the book.

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