Sunday, January 10, 2010

What's in a Name?

What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet.
--"Romeo and Juliet" Act I scene II

The other day at Lineage (my new restaurant job), I saw some of the servers chuckling over a bill. I wandered over to see what was so funny, and apparently, it was not the bill, but the person who had signed it: the unfortunately named "Lenny Poon." I giggled -- but then it occurred to me how often my name is probably the source of humor in restaurants and, let's face it, anywhere that strangers encounter my moniker.

In 18 months of blogging, I have never posted anything about my, er, unusual surname. Which is odd, considering that my blog's title directly alludes to the fact that my last name is two letters from being "vagina." For years, I HATED my name. I vowed that I would get rid of the pesky silent "g" as soon as possible. My father, when he went into the wine business, did just that -- his label was Vanino Cellars. It didn't seem to affect sales.

And yet....Vanino. It just doesn't look quite right, does it? That's basically how my name is pronounced (for those of you who have been too embarrassed to ask) -- though technically, the "gn" is not truly silent (think "lasagna"). To be honest, I like how my name sounds. "Katie Vagnino" has a nice, memorable ring.

Arguably, my brothers have it worse. They are males with a last name that resembles the female genitalia. I can only imagine what a horror middle school must have been for them. Somehow having a vagina makes having a name that looks like "vagina" not as bad.

Recently, I've come to terms with my name. Or rather, I've figured out how to deal with the inevitable conversation that happens at least once a month.

INSENSITIVE PERSON: Hey, you know what I thought your name was, when I first saw it?

I used to just roll my eyes and brace myself. But now I put on my best poker face.

ME: No.....what?

IP: (suddenly embarrassed) know....well, it looks a lot

ME: (still playing dumb) Like what? I don't know what you're hinting at.

IP: (almost inaudible) Vagina.

ME: (in shock) Really? Oh my god, that's so crazy. No one has ever told me that before.

Which highlights the fact that OF COURSE I know what my damn name looks like, and you are only the 3,000,000th person to bring it up, thanks. With this blog, I feel like I am taking ownership of my name. Now I'm in on the joke, instead of just being the butt of it. THAT would be a hard name to grow up with.


J.A.G. said...

Oh man, and your bro's name is Richard, too. ... That's rough.

Noah said...

Another is John Thomas. Too bad the third isn't Johnson.

Anonymous said...

And then of course there's my favorite permutation of your name, i.e.:
Q: "Did you see her vag--"
A: (cutting questioner off) "N-no."


Rachael said...

Your dad once told me that when he got his first computer with spell check it kept asking him "Did you mean VAGINA?"