Almost thirty years ago, when my parents were still cooing with twinkling eyes at one another, there was a decision to have a second baby. My brother was born about two years earlier and they needed a second child to hit that perfect white picket fence dream.
One pregnancy and one last-minute “her head is showing, what’s her name going to be?!” moment later, the name Caitlin was agreed upon. Little did my parents know the absolute shitshow my name would become over the years.
Kaitlyn. Catelyn. Katelin. Caitlyn. Kate-lynn. Should I go on? Nevermind the mere spelling of the name, but there’s a fascinating anomaly that occurs when you have a ‘C’ or ‘K’ name. Your name goes from a specific pronunciation to any ‘C’ or ‘K’ name available.
Growing up in a family of Kathy’s, Karen’s, Kayla’s, and Kim’s, my name was always furthest from accuracy. My family would endlessly sputter through the entire round of names, foreheads crinkled and tongues flashing about, before landing on mine. “Kath- Kar- Kay- Ki- Caitlin! Go clean your room!”
Work has always been an interesting place for name-related conversations as well. Currently, I’m Kristin.
I’ve been Katherine, Katie, Kat (meow) and Kathy at previous jobs. It eventually gets to a point where you just go along with your new name. You can only correct someone so many times before accepting the notion they have a true affinity for your new name.
I could wear a neon sign with an attached loud-speaker, blaring my name continuously in a nails-on-a-chalkboard style voice, threatening to roboto punch* anyone who dares misspeak my name — I would still be Kristin/Kathy/Catie/Kristy.
And lastly, one of my personal favorites: the email “typo”. Now, I completely understand misspelling a name when responding to, say, a voicemail, where you can’t physically see the spelling. But good old Outlook allows all of us to insert a nifty signature at the bottom of every message sent. That’s like giving an answer for free on a test; how can you get it wrong?!
While it offers a great boost of humor in my day to see a response to “Katileen”, I have to admit it makes me question and worry about those around me. When preparing dinner, do they blindly grab syrup of ipecac over salsa, just because of the same starting letter?
If so, that’s one dinner party I never want to be invited to.
* If you, or any of your affiliates, know what a ‘roboto punch’ is, you’re one up on me. I blame this nonsensical term on Monday morning and her devious ways.