The Curse of the Unique Name

Genese Elisabeth Davis

Genese Davis

It’s graduation day. The stage is set. The lights are bright. The announcer just called the person before you. You’re up next. Your heart begins to beat swiftly. Your palms are moist. You’re staring at the stage, but for far too many seconds nothing happens. You look to the announcer. What is he waiting for? You see him staring at his note cards. He cocks his head to the side, and there is a faint trace of fear in his face as he ponders the 5×7 in his hand. Suddenly you realize the reason and it strikes you with terror. The announcer doesn’t know how to pronounce your name! You plead with the universe: Come on. Not now. Not today in front of so many people. Please say my name correctly… The announcer stares confounded. This is it. You’re about to be in the spotlight with your name on the line, and there is nothing you can do to help him! You cringe as he begins to open his mouth. All you can do is hope he has the slightest grasp on what he is about to say. There he goes… He starts to say the words: “And now please welcome, Genessey Elisabeth Davis to the stage.” Oh no! He pronounced it wrong! What to do? Do you correct him or just go with it?

Having a unique name can be a blessing and a curse. In a way, it is incredibly helpful having a unique name. For example, it is easier to find someone online if they have an uncommon name. But it can also be tiring and embarrassing for that person to always correct the misspellings and mispronunciations. I’ve heard it all when it comes to my name. My parents named me Genese Elisabeth. The correct pronunciation of Genese is “Ja-niece.” Or the way I like to explain it: “It sounds like Denise, but it is spelled with a G – so: Genese.” But I usually get Genesis, Genessey, or some mutilated combination in between. This is one of the reasons I also just go by my middle name. Elisabeth, even though not spelled with the traditional z, is very well known.

So what can those with unique names do? What do you think? Is it a blessing or a curse? What experiences have you had with your name? I figure we have two options on how our story ends. Comment below with your favorite.

Ending One:

The mispronunciation of your name has been announced. The crowd cheers. You walk on to the stage, extend your hand, and grab the diploma with a touch of disdain. You smile through your teeth as you shake hands with your mentors, and walk off the stage dreading the next time your name gets butchered.

Ending Two:

The crowd cheers. You walk by whispering the correct pronunciation to the announcer and breathe a sigh of relief as he politely corrects himself and speaks your name with beautiful ease. You smile brightly, take your diploma, and shake hands with your mentors. And as you glide off stage you tell yourself: Next time, I’m scheduling a pronunciation session with the speakers beforehand!


9 thoughts on “The Curse of the Unique Name

  1. I know exactly know what you mean, my last name is a bit of a enigma, people always got it wrong calling it Mallet instead of Mel-at

  2. I think I like Ending 2. I frequently call names during the nursing pinning ceremony, but I usually gather my students up and make sure I have it right first. 🙂 I love your name!

  3. I probably just would have been content to be done with whatever I just graduated from. I was never the best student, so Ending 1 for me.

    But great job building up suspense in the short story. I really enjoyed it!

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed it. 🙂 🙂
      All of us can relate in some way or another to the circumstances of uncommon names! It’s really nice to hear others’ perspectives and experiences too.

    • Wow! So many variations of how people have said your name. It’s interesting to see how different people’s interpretations are. You and your grandmother share a beautiful name! Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  4. I tend to be a fan of number two.. of course my name isn’t exactly hard to pronounce, I always fear for those who’s names are. I never hope to be in that embarrassing position of calling somebody by the wrong pronunciation!

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