Angela is so not “me”. I’m definitely a Clementine. Maybe a Rebecca. Seraphina at a pinch, especially on the days I wear stripes and drink rosé and lounge on a yacht – which, of course, is never. But I would if I wasn’t called Angela.

You know, I always fancied myself more of a Pete.

Sorry, Mum, but Angela is a library monitor’s name. It’s capable and no-nonsense – which I am, I suppose. But how was I ever going to pull off whimsical with those thudding syllables? An-Ge-La. Like ‘potato’ or “phlegmatic”, it’s a word that sulks rather than skips off the tongue.

My husband is similarly burdened. Think of an English name beginning with N, popular in the ’60s and often suffixed with the expression “no friends”. Poor bugger. He’s so not his name. He’s a Tom, a Will, a Sam. A belly laugh of a man living under a dullard’s name.

Our children have magnificent monikers. Eloquent, serendipitous, lilting names – and I’m not showing off my vocab (much), just illustrating how beautiful words can be when vowels and consonants are perfectly paired. Our first would rather be anonymous, but the second – who fancies herself on Young Talent Time – is called Lilibelle. It’s a flibbertigibbet of a name, and she is. And unlike every Sharon and Tracey I know, she adores it.

“What’s in a name?” asked William Shakespeare (who might have been overlooked if he’d been christened, say, Colin). Plenty, as it happens. If Romeo Montague had been a simple Rob Martin, Juliet might not have found herself in such a pickle. Norma Jean? No wonder Marilyn Monroe couldn’t get rid of it fast enough. Likewise Sigourney – aka Susan – Weaver. And do you reckon Bruce Willis could have pulled off the gun-toting “Yippee-ki-yay” cop if he’d stuck with Walter Willison?

I thought half the population had name shame, that there’d be dozens of dashing men who should be called Max trapped in the bodies of a Darren. And Dawn, which rhymes with “yawn” (OK, hold the emails) – there must be a few of them who wish their parents had funked it up a bit. Aurora, say? Rory for short.

So I emailed my mates, presuming some must loathe their names. “Love mine,” says Sarah. “It’s soft and pretty and sibilant, though I wouldn’t mind Agatha because it’s boho and says ‘don’t mess with me’.” Jacinta adores her name, as does Harriet, who was named after a royal courtesan: “Having a name that was famous in history is so exciting – particularly when I learnt what a ‘mistress’ was.”

Steve wishes friends would drop the Stevie and Steve-o: “I like Stephen, but everyone would think I’m a pompous twat.” Phil, too, tries vainly for Philip. Hilary admits she’s grown into hers after a childhood of hairdressing ambitions and wishing she were a Nicky or Vicky: “Thank heavens my parents had better judgment.”

But it’s Helen’s email that brings me up sharp: “I’m Helen Maria – always have been, always will be. Have worked my whole life to make Helen Maria the best she can be. Love that my parents chose my name, as if in choosing it they chose the person I would be.”

And then this mother-of-three tells me something I’d never known – perhaps have never asked – in eight years of friendship: “I had two miscarriages. Their names would have been Louis and Elfa.”

I take it all back. Angela is a fine name. The one bestowed on me by a mother who couldn’t have loved me more. Plus, it could be worse – had I been a boy, I’d have been called Craig.

Catch Angela Mollard every Monday at 9.30am on Mornings, on the Nine Network. Email angelamollard@sundaymagazine.com.au. Follow her at www.twitter.com/angelamollard

Most commented

31 comments

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    • Gladys-Gladys says:

      07:21am | 01/04/12

      I fully empathise. But try a hyphenated name. No one gets it right.

    • philip says:

      07:29am | 01/04/12

      count yourself lucky I came close to being called Percival after my Great grandfather.

      maybe you should ask your parents if they are still alive what the other choices for your name couldve been.

    • Beth says:

      04:47pm | 02/04/12

      I wish I never knew what my alternate name would have been, My Dad was gunning for Megan. In the end Mum won and I ended up with Beth, which has never felt right, too incomplete and one syllable boring.
      I still think Megan this suits me better, as do most people I know when I tell them the story.

    • Tracey who is more of a Kate says:

      07:35am | 01/04/12

      Oh, Angela, this Tracey knows exactly what you mean. I always thought of myself as more of a Kate.

    • marley says:

      07:47am | 01/04/12

      My sister’s middle name is Ethel.  It’s not something she likes to think about.

    • Louisa says:

      02:39pm | 01/04/12

      That’s nearly as bad as Eileen !!

    • Mouse says:

      08:36am | 01/04/12

      My mother used to tell me that she wanted to name me Milly Molly Mandy after a character in a book, which was short for Millicent Margaret Amanda. I’m glad she didn’t!  lol :o)

    • Chris L says:

      10:38am | 01/04/12

      Mouse is a far less whimsical name wink

      My own mum says she considered calling me Sue, ‘cause of the song and the fact they couldn’t think of a boy’s name for a while.

    • Mouse says:

      05:16pm | 01/04/12

      I bet she was smiling when she said that too! lol
      You are lucky, she did pick a good name for you in the end.  :o)

    • Scotchfinger says:

      08:38pm | 01/04/12

      *wonders hopefully up to Mouse and Chris L who are deep in conversation, smiles expectantly, receives a polite smile in return before they resume deep chat. Notices lots of arm-touching, plus Mouse laughs hard at Chris’s jokes. After a few minutes of hanging around like a fool, decides to go back to the bar, despondant*

    • Chris L says:

      09:30am | 02/04/12

      *Keeps a wary eye on Scotchfinger*

    • Mouse says:

      12:42pm | 02/04/12

      but Scotchfinger, ChrisL’s jokes are really, really funny!! :o)

    • Scotchfinger says:

      01:27pm | 02/04/12

      I bet you both took a sickie and are now ensconced at the Sheraton. Should be ashamed *mutter*

    • stephen says:

      09:46am | 01/04/12

      Folk grow into their names, you know.
      Apparently, there are more gay men named Jason, and more male pros’ called Neil, (sorry, had to put that in) than any other name.
      So Angela is an angel.
      It’s an old name, and a good’n, I’d say.
      Never met a crook Sarah.
      Jess is playful, but the full name - Jessica - well, the last syllable tends to click from the throat, as in anger ... not like Angela. Angie’s OK, too.

      I like to guess people’s names, so at the airport waiting for a flight, a friend and I will make a bet on someone’s name and maybe what car they drive, then go up later to them and make an excuse to enquire their details.
      I remember a ‘Neil’ who was a dump-truck driver, ‘Jason’ was a Jase - construction worker - and a ‘Steve’, once, was a ponce, and told me to get lost.
      Perhaps names are not so accurate, though ... still, I wouldn’t want to be a norman, or a cuthbert.

      Hey, just thought of Francesca. (Frankie). That’s a nice name.

    • Scotchfinger says:

      08:22pm | 01/04/12

      I’m guessing you mostly target good-looking women for your guessing game? ‘Hi, are you Natalie Portman or her twin sister?’ *Gasp!* ‘You’re not? I’m so sorry, it’s just that you look just like her… or maybe even prettier! So embarrassed. Anyway, I’ll stop bothering you and go find my Jaguar…’

    • stephen says:

      09:37pm | 01/04/12

      I don’t need an airport for my girls.
      It’s a smart arse game, and we let others see how clever we are.

      ps   airports are dull, (except for the toilets, apparently) and our game is proof that I am not a waiting for MX.

      I’m 54, and my last girlfriend was 27 and a german model working in Cape Town.
      She looked better than Heidi whathername.

    • Shane says:

      10:38am | 01/04/12

      My name is Shane… and I am a girl. What were my parents thinking??? Its not even a nice name for a boy let alone a girl!!!
      I considered changing it to Samantha for a long time but now im just too old and would have to alter to many things to be bothered. Usually most people think they have heard me wrong anyway and i get called every other ‘sh’ name thats female. i dont bother correcting them…

    • LJ Dots says:

      03:13pm | 01/04/12

      Not to worry Shane, it sounds kinda cool, it’s unique without being U-Neeq if you know what I mean. Now if your parents had chosen Leonardo for example, it may have been a totally different story.

    • Cynicised says:

      03:23pm | 01/04/12

      Named after Shane Gould, our famous swimmer perhaps- or maybe you are her? smile. I suspect there are a few of your contemporaries who have the same honor. Understand the confusion people have with assuming your gender though. At least it’s a nice name and you’re not a guy named Meredith! Ha!

    • Michael says:

      04:04pm | 01/04/12

      I have known two female shanes in my life, unusual name for a girl but then again i have known a couple of males named stacey too and a male kim and a male jody.

      A name is just a sound that humans use as a reference point for who they are talking too/about. smile

    • Loz from Oz says:

      12:28pm | 01/04/12

      Try having parents who gave you what looks like a normal name, but didn’t realise the pronunciation of it is different to what they thought. I’m Lauren, but they call me Laaawwwwren, and it’s the most drawn-out, depressing sound. I hate it so much. Everyone else calls me Lauren (sounds like like Loren), except my immediate family. I always wanted a name like Kate, or maybe one starting with J.

    • Scotchfinger says:

      08:27pm | 01/04/12

      ‘Jemima’?

    • Kate says:

      02:35pm | 01/04/12

      Wow, two people who say they wish they were a Kate! I’ve never really liked being a Kate, but then a friend of a friend wrote a book of his own interpretation of names (Titled “Why Should I Call My Son Clint?”) and I always loved his meaning of Kate which is “I’d check for rocks first, but Kate is the name of the breath you take before diving into a perfect blue sea. If it’s a good day you’ll see the rocks, no worries, and if it’s a really good day then she’ll take your breath away. No question.”

      And for the authors name, the meaning of Angela is “The Angela is theact of colliding your little toe into the bathroom corner of a cupboard you happen to be walking past. Great fun.”. I don’t know if that helps or not… smile

      If I had a girl she would have been a Tristesse or an Aurora (Rory for short, as suggested in the article). My lovely little boy is Reilly, which completely suits him - a vibrant shining star with a cheeky grin and a kind heart.

    • Kipling says:

      02:56pm | 01/04/12

      Wow, people concerned about their oh so normal names. Try Kipling on for a while see how that goes for ya.

      Ironically the only alternative ever run by me was Tracey John… Long story not worth going into…

    • iansand says:

      03:19pm | 01/04/12

      Lilibelle will get sick of spelling her name.

      You can tell when friends of a friend of mine became his friends.  Those who met him in infants or primary call him Jimmy.  Those who met him at high school call him Jim.  And those who met him as an adult call him James.

    • stephen says:

      05:07pm | 01/04/12

      Lilibelle is a beautiful name.
      I’ve never heard it before, and I suppose when she gets to teenage years it will be shortened to Lily, maybe ?
      (Teens like short names coz they can write it in bigger letters across their school lockers ... and quicker, too, so’s they don’t get caught by a prefect.)

    • iansand says:

      11:09am | 02/04/12

      Anyone prepared to bet on how often she will say “No.  Not Lulubelle” in the course of her lifetime (not that Lulubelle is much better)?

    • MartinX says:

      11:56pm | 01/04/12

      Angie Baby, you’re a special lady.

    • Jem says:

      12:48am | 02/04/12

      I haven’t really liked my first or second names, or the way my first name gets shortened but when my mother asked what I’d rather be called, I could never think of something.  I have a nick name I like now, and I’ve stopped being bothered as I got older.

      We gave our daughter a short simple name to offset the surname that has to be spelt every single time.

    • Nat-Nat says:

      03:12pm | 02/04/12

      Growing up, I was the only Natasha I knew / heard of / saw…and I hated it! Born in the early 80’s, I wanted to be one of the 3 Emma’s, Jessica’s or Kate’s in my class (my generation’s Mia or Bella I suppose). I’ve since grown to like my name…though still loath being called Tash (Natasha never gets shortened to Nat). I think the moment was when I was bored in a Year 9 Religious Education class and realised my name backwards contained the word Satan.

      I was going to be an Elizabeth until I was born and I’m glad I wasn’t. I don’t think I’m fancy enough to be an Elizabeth wink

    • Dave33 says:

      05:48pm | 03/04/12

      My sister Angela is anything but a library monitor, unfortunately my brother was burdened with “Kevin” which only sounds good when mixed with bacon.  I was blessed with the perfect trade mans name “Dave”.

 

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