Name Flame or Why I Hate My Name

For most of my life I have hated my name. Sitting on the doctor’s table, my legs dangling over, I tell him I'm thinking about changing it.

“Oh no.  You can’t do that. You’re Wanda, our Wanda.”

Wow. Our Wanda?  Is that like Our Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm?

When I was a young, all my girlfriends seemed to have enviable names. They were sunny and chipper like Jennifer, Carolyn and Frances. When you heard them at morning roll call, you simply imagined yellow smiley faces floating in air. Hearts and stars dotting the i’s. Exclamation points everywhere!

Some names even bordered on glamorous, like Elizabeth and Rita. We were Catholics at Saint Anthony’s and most children claimed that they were named after saints, but frankly, you thought of Elizabeth Taylor and Rita Hayward when you heard those first names. And Elizabeth?? You certainly didn’t think of the mother of John the Baptist strolling olive tree laden hills, sharing morning sickness notes with the Virgin Mary!

To worsen the matter, my name did not lend itself to the escape chute of cool nicknames.  Elizabeth was Lizzie. Jennifer was Jen, and Frances was Frannie. Wanda was what? WANDY? WAN? DA? 


My name discomfort only increased as I traveled through awkward adolescence. Unknown to me, as I was toiling away in the college library on the likes of Chaucer and the Constitution, Penthouse magazine launched a cartoon name Wicked Wanda.  For years, guys who thought they embodied the essence of clever and original would saunter up to me and say, “Wicked Wicked Wanda…what’s shaking?”  Yeah, okay. Whip, please.

Finally after marriage. My name concerns diminished. What with babies, a new house, writing assignments, and bills, I was signing right and left—WANDA, WANDA WANDA, all with my best Catholic school cursive.  And besides, my name was now MOM and Mrs.

Recently, however, I was faced with the news of more cartoonization of my name. Courtesy of  Nickolodeon TV, the popular Fairly Oddparents show features two rogue married fairies named WANDA and Cosmo Cosmae. Their job it is to care for a young boy whose babysitter is evil and whose parents are obnoxiously absent. Wanda possesses Pepto Bismal pink hair, an extremely weird voice, and a menu of powers to make all your fantasies come true. Hmm. Really? Okay. Lose the pink up do and the voice. Now, you got me.


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