John Proctor: Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name! –The Crucible
Ever since my honors English teacher in high school introduced us to the play, then made us act it out, I’ve loved The Crucible. Then when it was acted out again in college on stage, with a friend in the cast, I loved it more. It came to life for me and John Proctor’s quote above is what I remember most vividly.
My name felt like a crutch growing up. What an unusual last name. I’d repeat it twice, then a third time. I always had to spell it out. But now I appreciate its uniqueness–as I wrote in another post. I like that people can find me, google me easily. There was a New York Times article a few weeks ago about parents determining children’s names on how easy they would be to google. I’m sure I would do the same thing. Brand recognition. Who wants to be one of a couple hundred John Does.
My full name is Maria Catherine Gualberto Gacad.
Maria Catherine is my first name. In similar fashion, my sister’s first name is Marlyne Therese. I’ve tried to eliminate Maria. I actually hate it. But it shows up in all of my legal documents and identification. I can’t seem to get rid of the damn thing. When I get married, I’m going to change my name to officially ditch Maria…can’t say I’ll ditch my last name, though. Who’s going to know it’s me, little old me, when my name is changed to Catherine Doe??? A classmate from b-school married another classmate from Spain and when she brought up the topic of changing her last name, her Spanish husband gasped, “Why would you do that? Why would you change your name?” Apparently, it doesn’t happen in Spain. Seems like a best practice we need to migrate over here to the States. Gualberto, my middle name, is my mom’s maiden name.
What people actually call me is a whole different matter. The shorter the name? The longer you’ve known me. My mom and my sister call me Cat. My dad calls me Rina (his name is Rino). My close friends have variations on a theme: Cath, Catch, Catchee. Growing up, I went by Cathy. In college, I changed the spelling to Cathee to be different. Then when I graduated, I put Catherine on my resume because I thought it looked more professional. Plus, I preferred being called Catherine. I want people to call me what they’re used to calling me. I would think it odd if my high school friends started calling me Catherine.
My pet peeve, though, is when people that I meet now start calling me something other than Catherine. I introduce myself as Catherine. Catherine is on my email signature. But time and time again, I get people responding with “Cathy,” or “Kathy,” or “Cate.” Ummm, excuse me? Did I say you can call me whatever you feel like calling me? Don’t botch it up. Leave me my name!