Saturday, August 13, 2005
what's in a name?
Everyone and their Mom is named Lauren. I grew up thinking that my name was unique. As a scruffy little kid in Hollywood, I was surrounded by "Tiffany"s and "Jenni"'s, "Coyote"s and "Danni"s. My own dear mother told me I had such an original moniker. Named after Lauren Bacall according to my mother although as is typical to my life I have a french counter story to my origins: my french aunt swears I was named after some character in a french film. I have a hard time believing my aunt because the name Lauren was simply not known in France in 1980. It wasn't until about 8 years ago that I could find my name on those tacky souvenir key chains in tabac shops in the south of france.
When I was born in L'Hopital d'Aubagne, my parents had to fight to get them to put Lauren on my birth certificate. The French have always frowned on names that are not also the name of a saint, until recently (which explains why there are so many little "Kevin"s running around in Paris these days) so my father had to explain that my name was simply Laurent but without the T. I still use that line when explaining how to spell my name to a French person, otherwise they will spell it like the region/quiche Lorraine.
So I spent the beginning of my life thinking I was unique. That is until I move to Chicago and started elementary school.
"Is Lauren here?" Three little girls shoot their hands in the air saying "here". I also shoot them evil looks for having stolen my name while my hand strains to reach higher than the other two girls.
As school gets bigger, I meet more and more Laurens. "Do you mean Lauren L, or Lauren S. ?" "No, that Lauren in my math class 4th period, Lauren P. I think..."
At this point I'm thinking it can't get any worse, that we could start our own "Lauren" army, I take a year abroad from college to study in Paris. When I finally think that I will be back in the land of Laurent and Lorraine but no Lauren I am sorely mistaken. My quickly formed little posse of american students studying in Paris consists of not 2, not 3 but 4 Laurens including myself. In order to tell us all apart, we created nicknames based on our last names. I became LoPo, then there was LoJo, LoRo, and LoLo.
One night out LoRo and myself started complaining about our nicknames. LoJo and LoLo are cute, we however were some kind weird combination of Rolo Polos. I also complained about the fact that LoLo technically should have been LoKo based on the last name system. But LoLo explained that "Lolo" had just always been her nickname, so it was natural. This whole name fiasco finally rearing its ugly, all too common little head, I blurted out. "Yeah? Well I've always been known as LAUREN my entire life, but I've allowed you guys to give me this shitty nickname anyways".
A few years ago, my namesake, Lauren Bacall was doing a book signing in Chicago. My mom said that the majority of the people there were older women telling Lauren they named their daughters after her. Not even the reason behind choosing my name is unique. And her real name isn't even Lauren, it's Betty for christ sakes.
Now that I am living in England, no one understands me when I say my name. Clearly I don't know how to pronounce it correctly. So instead of hearing Lauren, they hear "Maureen" or "Lorna". Next time I'm going to say:
"Yes, Maureen, that's right. I was named after an actress in a french movie".