If you’re a Sarah or a Jessica or a Parker (well, not so much the last one but I couldn’t resist going there), you’re probably accustomed to going through life informing someone new of your name and then proceeding to immediately, well, get on with your day. But for people like me, my name comes with a FAQ and often a raised eyebrow or two.
My name is Holley, which is usually completely inoffensive and unassuming when simply verbalised. However, when seen spelt out, things can often go a bit pear-shaped. The 411 according to my mum is that since I was born 10 days before Christmas, she didn’t want people thinking that she only bestowed me my name because of my birth’s proximity to Chrissy.
Apparently this was something that had been well thought-out and planned in advance, although I still quietly question whether the decision was influenced by the 30 hours of labour she went through to pop me out.
Either way, there are a few side effects of an unusually spelt name that I don’t think mum could have anticipated 21 years ago. One biggie is that due to the combination of the additional letter in my first name and also just having an uncommon surname, when you Google me you can practically find my family tree, footage from my grade two school play, my Medicare number and the name of my first kiss. However, the factor that plays the largest part in my life is the multiple questions per work shift I receive regarding that extra ‘E’.
I work at one of the biggest retail stories in Australia, where a name badge is mandatory and serving hundreds of customers per day opens you up to analysis from shoppers while you scan their deodorant and strawberry-shaped pillow. Within the last month alone I have had enquiries ranging from whether I know what Netflix is, from a child no older than seven, and how I managed to nab the “day off school” to be at work at midday. Considering the attending-school ship long since sailed in 2013, that one was definitely grimace-inducing.
You thought this name was weird? You haven’t heard anything yet. Listen to Andrew Daddo and Holly Wainwright discuss baby names on our parenting podcast, This Glorious Mess. Post continues after audio.
So here are the five key things I wish people, budget retail shopping enthusiasts or otherwise, would stop saying about my name:
1. “Why did you choose to spell it that way?”
This one is all about the tone in which it is said rather than the question itself. I am perfectly happy to answer a curious soul who is wondering whether there’s any special significance to the ‘E’ in my name. What I am not entirely perfectly happy (although of course, as a sales assistant I have to pretend to be) to engage with is people who follow up this question with a scoff or an eye-roll.
Just like Apple Martin (Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s daughter) and other equally-unusually named celebrity kids, believe it or not, we didn’t get to weigh in on name choices while we were in the womb. I am not saying my ma and pa should be obliged to answer this question either, however it would be nice if people kept in mind that generally humans are not capable of making decisions you know, pre-birth.