What's in a Name? Well, Not Vowels, if You're MeTsh Oxenreider
“Um… The only part of this I can read is Nicole.’ So, Nicole.” Polite laughter last weekend as I smile and shimmy up to the front of the line to reboard the plane. I had one of those delightful flights where the final destination on the ticket says Chicago, but really, they want you to first deplane and replane in Tampa.
Those of us arriving from Norfolk had already redeemed our boarding passes, and since this was Southwest Airlines, we no longer had them. So they allowed us to return to the aircraft using our personal IDs.
I laugh, but it doesn’t register as a joke, because I’ve heard it a million and a half times throughout my life. No one can pronounce my name.
It’s funny in some ways—that part where my parents more or less invented my name, and that my brother, Josh, was given one of the most popular names of our generation. That part is funny. (I recall one Easter when I wrote “Jsh” with a paint pen on all his plastic eggs.)
But it honestly doesn’t bother me… my weird name. It did for awhile as a child, and when I was in fourth grade I swore that when I turned 18 I would change my name to either Tish or Nicole, my middle name. That way, I at least would have an “i” to dot with a heart.
But people do consistently wonder why my name is spelled how it’s spelled, how it’s pronounced, and the whereabouts of its origin. So I thought I’d use my first post, here at Babble, to explain. It’s really not that interesting.
1. Story goes when my mom was pregnant with me in the 70s, my dad was reading a novel about a pilot who crash landed in the USSR. He meets a girl, and her name is Tsh. This, presumably, means that my name is Russian. However, I was in both Russia and Latvia in the early 90s, and nobody had ever heard of my name there.
2. It’s pronounced “Tish.” Really. Nothing exciting.
3. See number one. I truly don’t know, though.
The first time I heard my name was unusual was in the second grade. I was following my class out to recess when my first grade teacher from last year pops her head out the door. “Tsh? Could you come in here for a minute?” I look up at my current teacher, and she nods me in.
“Class, this is the student I was telling you about,” Mrs. Hull begins as I enter her classroom. “You know how we’ve been learning how every word has a vowel? Well, here’s the exception.”
I curtsied a la Pollyanna, and then jolted out the door to join my class on the monkey bars.
What’s the strangest name you’ve ever heard?