Tag Archives: what’s in a name

What’s in a name?

People often spell my name wrong. This is usually through no fault of their own but rather because of an impulsive decision I made as a young girl. One of those passionate and spontaneous moments of childhood that only happen in childhood because sometimes when you’re nine you know yourself better than when you’re on the cusp of 39. 

For those of you who don’t know, or never noticed, I spell my name with two L’s. I changed it in the third grade because every parent in the early 80’s in western Ohio thought April was just a super terrific name and, as a result, there were what felt like hundreds of us in my small elementary school. Technically at least seven. Most importantly, three alone just in my class. Tired of being April B., I decided to set fire to the old me and emerge from the ashes as Aprill. 

Aprill! Yes! Because Aprill is so much more exotic than plain old boring April. April was a month. Aprill was a force of nature. Aprill could do anything. Wear her jeans pegged! Rollerblade without a helmet! Know all the lyrics to a Tupac song! (And not the radio edit version!) With a name like that I was destined for big things. Like becoming the first supermodel doctor archaeologist who wrote novels on the weekend. 

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Granted, not everyone was on board with this change. My teacher repeatedly marked my grade down on all my spelling tests because I spelled my name “wrong.” Nevertheless, I persisted. Unfortunately so did she, which is why I got a C in spelling that year, but I think I made my point. 

Because eventually everyone did forget that April B. ever existed. Soon I was known as Aprill, that girl who puked on the playground that one time! (It was hotdog day. It wasn’t pretty). 

And thus things remained until last week when I went to Starbucks, where I discovered I hadn’t been nearly ambitious enough with my name change all those years ago. Because right there, on my cup, staring back at me in black and white, was the most beautifully unnecessary way yet to spell my name. 

“Aperal”

APERAL. I mean. What? 

I’ll admit I laughed at first. Even shared it on social media to get some laughs and also show everyone that I am a very important writer who writes very writerly-like at Starbucks with all the other important writerly writers of our generation. 

But, and I’m not proud of this, but it got me thinking. What if that was my name? What if I was Aperal? And if I was, who was this Aperal? 

I mean, sure, Aperal looks like a cross between the name of prescription drug with horrible side effects and a fancy drink women in their mid-40’s order at two in the afternoon. But you have to admit it’s memorable. 

I’ll tell you one thing, Aperal is probably not the kind of person who only wins arguments in the shower. Oh no, Aperal would win them right then and there and while completely dry.  

When someone asks Aperal what she does for a living, she wouldn’t go “oh, I’m kind of a writer.” Oh no. She’d say “I’m an award-winning columnist.” And then she’d probably do something really cool like chug an entire martini and throw the glass into the fireplace (because Aperal is the kind of person who is always casually hanging out by fireplaces). 

And Aperal would definitely have the nerve to get a pixie haircut and dye it platinum blonde like Aprill has been wanting to do for years.  

Aperal probably doesn’t have insomnia either. Nope. You’d never catch her slowly eating an entire block of cheese dipped in guacamole by the glow of the refrigerator light because she hasn’t got a good night’s sleep in three weeks and nothing matters anymore. 

Aperal can probably get into her sports bra without pulling a muscle and knocking over a lamp. 

Aperal could send a text without agonizing over its content until she got a reply. 

I bet Aperal even knows how to French braid. Like some kind of hair wizard. 

And when Aperal’s kids misbehave in public, Aperal would get them in line by turning into a stern but lovable Mary Poppins as the entire playground looked on in awe, as opposed to growling at them and whipping out her Darth Vader voice, terrifying everyone within hearing distance.

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Sigh. It does sound nice. Completely reinventing myself again. To become that better version of myself that is hiding underneath all the ketchup stains and undereye bags. 

In the end though, Aprill, for all her faults and pretentiously referring to herself in the third person, isn’t that bad. And Aperal, for as amazing as she sounds, wasn’t the one who built this life from the ground up. A life full of mistakes but one I’m happy to call my own. 

Besides, wasn’t it someone famous (Aperal would probably know) who said “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”?

So, I think I’ll stick with remaining Aprill for now. 

But I’m keeping Aperal in my back pocket. Just in case I’m ever casually hanging out by a fireplace. 

 

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A writer by any other name

When I was in college, I once got into a fight with a boyfriend because I said if we ever got married, I was keeping my maiden name. To him, apparently this statement meant I was some sort of scary nutjob closeted hippie feminist that ate pieces of the Constitution for breakfast.

But my reasoning was much more simple. My decision was merely motivated by the fact that I’m the last one in my large extended family that still has my biological grandfather’s surname. I just wanted to keep that name going for as long as I could.

Luckily, the man I did marry understood this desire and since he was the last in his family carrying his grandfather’s surname, we ended up coming to a nice compromise, where I would keep my family’s name going in long-forgotten articles and blogs and our future unholy spawn would take his name.

Boom. Done deal.

Except it wasn’t. Not really. When my stepdad bought me a plane ticket out of the goodness of his heart, he put Aprill Huddle, leading to a rather intimate patdown by a TSA agent when they discovered it didn’t jive with my license. When I was maid of honor for my best friend’s wedding, in the program I was listed as Aprill Huddle. The majority of our mail says “Mr. and Mrs. Huddle” and I’m often called Mrs. Huddle in public.

Which, to be honest, I don’t really mind. I’ve been called worse (including some painful years in high school and college where my nickname was “Chunky Bob”).

However, I was surprised a married couple having two different last names, no hyphen within sight, is not quite as common as I would have thought. So it should have come as no surprise to me when I saw that a recent survey found that 50 percent of Americans would support a law requiring a woman to take her husband’s last name.

But it still was.

Fifty percent? Really? I mean, I understand the tradition of taking your husband’s last name and I think it’s a lovely way to symbolize that you are now a family. But making a law requiring it?

Come on, this is America. A country where celebrities can name their children Audio Science (actress Shannyn Sossamon), Pilot Inspektor (actor Jason Lee) and Moroccan (Mariah Carey’s demon seed). Where celebrities themselves can decide to go by one word, like Cher or Madonna, or in the most extreme cases, simply change their name to an unpronounceable symbol, and then change it to The Artist, and then change it back again to the original one word name of Prince. Where a normal kid named Sean Combs can be Puff Daddy and then later P. Diddy and then later still Puff the Magic Diddly or whatever he’s going by now.

On the same note, this is the land of the free and the home of the brave reality TV stars who actually choose to go by ridiculous monikers such as Snooki, The Situation and J-Woww.

This is a nation where spelling is a fluid concept and Paige can be spelled Payj, Rachel can be Raychelle, Max can be Mhaxx, and Kimberly can be Kymberleigh. Where apostrophes know no bounds: De’Shawn’a, Se’Heira, Ce’Qwoia.

This is the melting pot of the world, where little kids with Polish surnames featuring four Z’s, three Y’s and 12 vowels can play alongside little Asian children with the hard-to-pronounce-for-white-people last name of Nguyen in peace and harmony. Where girls named Christi and Sammi and Mari can dot their i’s with stupid, little hearts on legal documents.

Where a fourth-grader from Ohio can decide one day to add an extra L to her name on a whim because there were three other girls with her same name and she was tired of being referred to as “April B.”. Not to mention, I could go right now and for a reasonable fee, legally change my name to Scrappy McDoo if I really wanted to.

Like Shakespeare said, what’s in a name?

Well, in America, it’s anything you want.

And in my opinion, we should keep it that way.

Signed,

Aprylll Br’and’on