Saturday, November 21, 2009

personalized nameplates...freak name validation

I am just going to come out and say it. I am obsessed with name-personalized products. You know the ones. The overpriced tins of breath mints that read “Beverly” in a faux Las Vegas Marquis, as though the big attraction in Vegas is “Beverly” and not the seedy brothels or tasseled-nipple night club acts passing as talent like a tart in an evening gown passes as elegant.

The obsession began when I was a child. I could easily pass this off on my mother. It’s her fault. She bought be these little trinkets whenever we were on vacation, which enable me to become obsessed with my name and, in turn, become obsessed with myself. This would be easy, because can’t we blame most things on our mothers? Her two ex chromosomes carry more genetic burden than my fathers wimpy ex why combination, one might say on the playground to another child or recess attendant. But, no, this burden is not my mother’s burden to bear. No, in fact, it is mine and mine alone.

Growing up I HATED my name. I absolutely hated it. I went through kindergarten and the better part of 1st grade having never met another Shannon—not a single one. I often thought to myself, “why can’t I have a normal name like Jennifer, Jessica, or Amy? There are like five of each in my class? My parents had to go and name me something weird. I’m not even Irish.” Then, I met my first Shannon—it was a boy. I was mortified and heartbroken all at the same time. My dad gave me a boy’s name because he wanted a son! Oh, woe is I! I didn’t meet another Shannon until high school. My name was a freakish boy name that no normal parent would want to name his or her child.

So, when I would be in a souvenir shop and see a sheet of sparkley, rainbow stickers that had my freak name printed all over them, I would feel somewhat validated. See world?!?! My name is normal! This inflated sense of euphoria would be immediately dashed the next time I had to explain that my name was not, in fact, Sharon. That name is even worse than my real name.

So, that is where the obsession came from. Whenever I have a lay over in an airport, I always look for name personalized item. I still have that sense of validation when I get my notepads that say, “A message from Shannon.” I will often pick things up for friends, to let them know I think their name is valid and completely normal, too. Also, I have gotten better at enunciating my name upon being introduced to someone. No one calls me Sharon anymore.