What’s in a Name?

I’ve been doing some thinking about names lately, and not only because the Player to be Named Later is still very much just that. (Thanks for the suggestions, though I regret to say we’ve already nixed “Mo,” what with the Foxy Lady escapades and all.)

I was given a musical-sounding name at birth, and I loved my triple M monogram. Roughly a bazillion Michelles were born in the late 1970s, but very few of them are “one-L” Micheles. Coupled with my distinctive last name, I was (almost) one-of-a-kind in the name department. (Well, except in Italy, where there’s apparently a piano player with my name, or something.) I crafted a public reputation with that name, thanks to my byline on newspaper and magazine articles, and on the spine of my book.

It took a lot for me to trade that name in when B and I got married. It actually took a grand bargain: I’d change my name if the jewelry-phobe would wear a ring. We both got what we wanted, and more. He’d feel weird without the ring now, and I pretty quickly got accustomed to my new name, which involved making my maiden my middle, and adding on B’s family name.

At work, people quickly picked up my new monogram. “MMV” started showing up in emails and on notes left on my desk and everything official listed all three of my names (though whether I landed in the Ms or the Vs in an alphabetized list was always a crapshoot); when people were confused, I told them that I pretty much answer to anything – first, middle, last, and any combination thereof. I liked (and like) being MMV.

The new job, though, is different. They told me before I started that the protocol for email addresses is just your last name@organization, and there wasn’t room to list two names before the @. I didn’t want to do the hyphenated thing, so I agreed to drop my maiden from my email address. And then I got here, and the name plate on my door was just my first and last, too. My boss introduced me around using just those; he tripped over my distinctive and vowel-laden middle maiden.

I’ve kept up the three-name thing in my email signature and when I introduce myself, but it feels a bit like it’s slipping away. There are some pluses to that. Two names are easier than three; I know where I’ll fall in an alphabetized list, and all I have to do is say “as in Vince” when I’m trying to explain the spelling of my last name.


It doesn’t change who I am, but I still miss my middle M.

3 thoughts on “What’s in a Name?

  1. I can’t quite think of you as “Michele Vaughn”… you will always be “Michele Mariani” or “Michele Mariani Vaughn” to me. I’ve gotten used to the latter even though a mouth full! Fortunately you’ve dropped calling me Schneider during drunken fits. 😉

  2. Yes, same here. You are MMV in my contacts list and in my head. And the only reason I’m commenting a week later is that your RSS feed just populated w this entry!

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