Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What's In A Name?

My dear daughter, realizing that her mother was in a creative slump, threw me a lifeline. To wit, the Middle Name Meme. Appropriate, when you consider that her first name is my middle name. We had something different in mind for her when she was born, but when we saw her it just didn’t fit, and my middle name did.

Which kind of brought things full circle, as, growing up with my ordinary, dime-a-dozen first name, I heartily wished the parents could have used it as my middle name, and Elizabeth, so regal and elegant and dignified, as my first name. Of course [it just now occurs to me] maybe I just didn’t look regal and elegant and dignified enough.

Elizabeth was my paternal grandmother’s name. She was the epitome of regal and elegant and dignified. Having condemned me to ordinariness with my first name, they threw in the regal grandmother’s name as a consolation. Maybe they thought having it as my middle name would help me to grow up to be all those things.

It didn’t happen. She was a tall, tweedy, wool person. I’m a tall denim, chambray person. She was a smoker when it was cool and sophisticated to smoke. I despise tobacco. She died at fifty seven. I’m older than that and I haven’t died yet. I remember when I was very small, visiting her in Carlow, and having tea in her garden, with all the silver and relics of a passing age. The only other memory I have of her is when she came to the seaside with us, for a few days, one summer. She and I were walking along the road from the house we were staying at to the beach. I looked up at her innocently and asked her how old my dad was. But she out-foxed me.

“He’s as old as his tongue and a little bit older than his teeth,” she said airily, in a voice that didn’t encourage further impudent enquiry. Though her name was Elizabeth, she was known to everyone as Lily. She died when I was barely seven. In the photograph above she was about nineteen, and I have another of her with my grandfather, who had already died when I was born. Blogger dug it's heels in and would only let me upload one before the computer started straining and threatening to blow up. I also have a silver christening cup that she had engraved in beautiful copperplate letters with my initials, MEBW, a tarnished silver milk jug, and a beautiful, but very tarnished silver tray that she left to me when she died. And that’s about all I know of her. I hope my grandchildren will know more about me when I’m gone. Oh, and I also have her name! As does Liz, so she won't be forgotten. You surely didn’t think I could launch straight into a meme without any preamble…..Did you?

E Emotional. Very. Enough said.

L Law abiding. Especially since recent run-ins with law enforcement personnel. People still speed through our neighbourhood. But if they’re behind me I can almost hear them snorting with impatience. Because, if the speed limit is thirty, I’m probably doing twenty nine, at most thirty one. Let them crawl up my bumper. I have no desire to make further contributions to the sheriff's donut fund.

I Illogical. At least that’s what my menfolk would have you believe. Personally, I think I just have my own unique brand of logic. A little more convoluted perhaps, than male logic, but it gets me there. Eventually.

Z……zzzzzzzzzzz! No matter what life throws my way, as soon as I crawl under the covers at night I’m off to La-La land. You could say I’m the filling in a zzzzzzz sandwich. The bottom slice is my mother, who made regular nocturnal trips to the kitchen throughout my childhood, for cups of tea and a cigarette. If you heard the stairs creaking and crept down to join her, you’d know where she was sitting only by the glow of the cigarette in the darkness. She was a highly intelligent, high strung woman, to whom life threw too many curve balls. And so she couldn’t sleep. The top slice is Liz, who has inherited insomnia, not only from her maternal grandmother, but from her paternal grandmother too. If a monkey sneezes in Brazil, in the wee hours of an Ohio morning, Liz’s eyes will fly open in alarm. And I’m in the middle, all warm and cozy and oblivious, sleeping like a baby while the world burns.

A Allergic. Not to anything physical, but to insincerity, rudeness, sarcasm, yelling, politics and its practicioners, policemen with laser guns who lie in wait for the unwary in sleepy suburbia, while fifteen minutes away pimps and drug dealers and crack whores ply their trades with impunity. [Remind me to tell you sometime about Sherry, death on wheels to all of the above, whom Rise and I had the dubious pleasure of running into on our travels last summer.]

B Brazen as brass. As a child I wouldn’t say boo to a goose, but somewhere between there and here I figured out that if all these interesting people weren’t going to talk to me, I’d better make the first move. So I’m no longer shy and timid, and will strike up a conversation with anyone, which has sometimes caused untold embarrassment to my children, and not a little to the OC. But I’ve had some very interesting conversations…..

E Energetic, empathetic, enabling, encouraging. Guilty as charged on all counts. On alternate Thursdays, at least.

T Talkative. God gave us the power of speech for a reason. I wouldn’t want my tongue to shrivel up and fall off for lack of use. Besides, communication is one of the most important aspects of being human. So many people regret the things they never said when someone they loved was alive. After that someone is dead it’s too late. I think that refusal to talk with someone is cruel and hardhearted, if it’s obvious that that someone would like you to talk to them. And yes. Of course I have some very specific instances in mind….

H Humourous. Nothing much happens in life that doesn’t have a small twitch to it, somewhere. Even if I can’t see it right away, given time, I can usually find it. Maybe it’s a survival technique. Why keep weeping and gnashing your teeth if you can find a lighter way of looking at a situation? It’s probably not going to make the problem or situation go away, but it might make it more tolerable. And laughter is good for the soul.

There. I had no idea I would ramble on at such length. Sometimes it’s difficult to get started, but once on a roll, I forget where the “Off” button is.

Postscript to last post: "Excellent!" he said smacking his lips. No comparisons, so quibblings, just a resounding "Excellent!" Made me feel so special I'm hatching plans to open my own Hungarian Pastry Shop. If not in this life, then in the next!


Thimbleanna said...

That was great Molly! And Elizabeth? My very favorite girly name. Ever. If I'd had a daughter, she would surely have been an Elizabeth, and perhaps called Tess.

Birdydownunder said...

very interesting Molly. Ummm my middle name is Mary. But I never gave my kids a middle name as I figured they could pick their own if they so desired. That was in the days of all those really whacko names being used. But as I say a Rose by any other Name

Pam said...

Very revealing, Molly!

Glad he liked the cake.

Unknown said...

That was brilliant, Molly! Though your grandmother sounds rather frightening!

PS If you're opening a Hungarian pastry shop, even though I'm on the other side of the world, I want to know where it is! Yummy!

PPS At least you have a song about your name - even if you're doing pastries and not mussels...

Lily said...

Yeah. She's back! Nice job on the meme.

Molly said...

I love your first NaBloPoMo post. Since we share the same first name, I read the entry with special interest. For many, many years, I was the only Molly that I knew. My middle name, Jane is from my grandmother too. (Her first name was Orpha, both she and I were glad that we did not share our first names.)

Actually, I think of you as quite logical, or maybe I can just sense the twists and turns of your logic.

thailandchani said...

We should start an Elizabeth club. :) It's really not all that common anymore.


Unknown said...

I am really enjoying your blog :) Very pleased that the FIL enjoyed his cake! So he should have... it sounded devine!

meggie said...

You could never ramble on too long! I loved this post.
So glad your wonderful sounding cake was met with such approval.

Pam said...

By the way, Molly, I'd love to have you to dinner as well! Next time you're visiting Rise, just pop across the water. It's not far for a world traveller like you. The cats would love to meet you too.