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Life at East: What’s in a name?

Published: Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

I’m sure that you all have Saturday marked on your calendars, seeing as it’s the biggest holiday of the year. I will definitely be celebrating all day, but that might be because I have an obvious bias. 

No, Saturday isn’t my birthday, but it is an even better celebration – St. Brigid’s Day!

St. Brigid’s Day is the feast day for the Celtic goddess Brigid, who was known for founding the first Irish convent and is a patron saint of Ireland. As a bonus, she had the power to turn milk into beer. (I would be the most popular kid at lunch if I could do that!)

I feel as though St. Brigid – or any other Brigid, for that matter – and I are kindred spirits, because it sure is rough having a first name like ours. I’ve had an infinite amount of encounters when others get my name wrong; we Brigids deserve way more than one day to celebrate us. Many people I encounter have trouble grasping the spelling of my name, but I honestly do not understand why, because it really isn’t that hard.  

You see, there are six stages to correcting the spelling of my name:

1. When people spell out my name, it only takes four letters for me to know that, inevitably, they are spelling it incorrectly. This is the time to politely say, “Dude, that’s not how I spell my name.”

2. I spell out my name for them – B-R-I-G-I-D.

3. At this time, the offender will commence a miniature spaz-out because they simply cannot believe that they heard me correctly.

4. Again, I spell out my name, only twice as slow – B—R—I—G—I—D

5. I listen and nod as they spell my name back to me.

6. Then I go along with the friendly banter about how my name is so unusual and, therefore, automatically hard to spell.

This happens because everyone seems to think my name is “Bridget,” which is wrong. They try to convince me that this is the “common” spelling of my name, but I’m not buying it. There are so many (wrong) variations of the name that I don’t think it’s accurate to designate just one as the “normal.” 

What I cannot stand is how others can be so insensitive to the fact that they just butchered something as personal as my identity. One time, someone from our insurance company told my mom flat-out that I spelled my name wrong. More recently, a classmate – who, may I add, has a unique name – was asking me why she couldn’t find me on Google Drive. It turns out she didn’t realize that I spelled my name “differently,” which is funny because I haven’t ever changed the spelling of my name.  What always gets me is when someone says, “That’s a name you don’t hear every day,” even though I literally do.

My biggest disappointment, by far, is that I will never be able to buy myself one of the countless personalized trinkets that are sold in airports. Because my name isn’t “Ben” or “Brianna,” I am always stuck with “#1 Kid,” a statement that would be true even if my name topped the popularity charts in the 1990s. 

All in all, I’m proud of my first name; it reminds me of my Irish heritage a little every day. I’d like to think that going through my own name problems makes me a little more eager to learn others’ names. If anyone would like any beer this Saturday, just bring a liter of milk and $5 to my house, and I’ll be open for business. 

• Brigid Ackerman is a senior at St. Charles East High School. She enjoys playing the trumpet, eating bread, and writing this column. She can be reached at editorial@kcchronicle.com.

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