Thursday, July 23, 2009

What's in a name?

In case you didn't know, my name is Karen. It's plain and I'm sure you count one or more of us as friends or colleagues. I asked my parents once what other names they'd considered for me. Tara was one and Errol (my brother's name) was the other. Had I been a boy, I would have been named after my dad.

I love that I don't look like a Karen. And in case you are blind or one of those people who "don't see colour", I'm Black. I don't want to be stereotypical but my parents, coming from the West Indies, could have gone the other way namewise. Instead of blending in with the Canadian populace and naming me the most popular name of the day, they could have named me Bernice or Jemima (2 of my aunts) which were popular names in Dominica in the 60s . Ugh.

I didn't like my name growing up. I hated being one of at least 3 Karens in every class. I was always "Karen A". And because I was an A, I was always first for projects or presentations which I hated even more. Imagine my delight when I married a Kaye! Middle of the alphabet for my kids. They're so lucky!

I've grown into loving my name. I love how when you read my name on a piece of paper you can't tell how old I am or what nationality I belong to. Actually, even when you hear my voice you can't tell I'm Black. It messes with people's heads when they see me for the first time and I like that. I guess it's part of the attention-seeking behaviour I've become known for. That's Karen for you.

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