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".

10 comments:

Danielle said...

Maybe you should change your name to Betty.

Neil said...

Would you rather have a name that everyone associates with Neil Diamond and Neil Sedaka?

Lauren is a great name.

Lauren said...

It is a great name, but its only ok if I use it. Oh. And Lauren Bacall, bien sur.

Lauren said...

Betty was one of my nicknames in Paris, but people more often call me Laz over there.

Stacey said...

I think no one should go to high school... That's when things really turn sour in the name sphere...

That's when the other Stacey sprouted her ugly curled rag. With that high pitched nasal voice. Oh I can still hear her French! THE HORROR!!! Especially when Bitch-fest Starking would compliment her lovely accent. ARE YOU KIDDING?! You deaf maggot! Her beautiful accent?!

I feel your pain... let's just leave it at that.

Lauren said...

Yeah, "other stacey" was horrific. At least most of the Laurens I knew, I liked.

Diane said...

OK, I bust out laughing at your comment to the Lopo girls about how you used to be called Lauren until they gave you a shitty nickname!

I have to say, I can't really share you pain, because they only Diane's I run into are women out mom's age, hence Diane Pekow. However I never liked "Diane", and I especially wish I was called Diana now that my last name is Durham-how much better does than Diana Durham sound than Diane Durham? A hell of a lot better, that's how much!

Danny said...

I can't think of anyone cooler to be named after. Knowing that Lauren Bacall's real name was Betty I grew up thinking that was the "real" nickname for anyone named Lauren. After mentioning her a few times on my blog, someone who worked with her told me she is one of the most difficult people on Earth. Oh well.

At least your last name was unique. Try growing up as Danny Miller—there were three of those in my grade alone.

Lauren said...

Danny, I'm going to pretend I never read your comment on Ms. Bacall being difficult. I prefer to think of her as the gracious woman we all love.
Some people in Paris call me Betty, and as you can see from my cartoon post, I do have a thing for Barney Rubble...

Ammo said...

Maureen,
I'm still laughing at the trouble the brits had with your name, though in fairness its because you pronounce it wrong!! Janice still asks me how Lorraine is and I try not to laugh when I tell her you're ok. Thanks for the little tribute by the way. Lets hope Gareth and Roddy can keep things fun!