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My Name v. I Call Myself

A friend and I were talking about our careers and GDC and why my friend moved out of the South when I accidentally called her by a name that she recently stopped using. I almost didn’t notice the slip, and she didn’t correct me, but I saw her eyes scrunch for a brief second – the tip-off that I had misspoken. After I apologized and we moved on, I started to go through the different names that my friends, family, and miscellaneous others have called me over the years. It occurred to me that the name that someone uses to refer to me speaks volumes about their relationship with me. No one really goes by one name.

Alex – gross shorthand that I absolutely hate. People who don’t know me assume that I want to go by this nickname, but they’re really just being lazy. I like it somewhat because the name is gender neutral, but that’s about its only redeeming quality.

Lexi – only family members and my dear friend Joel can call me Lexi. Members of my family have referred to me as Lexi ever since I was a very little girl, so I endure it. At this time in my life, it’s far too infantile for my taste. Joel can call me Lexi because he asked if he could.

Lexerooni – Lexi variant used only by my aunt Kim. This speaks more to my aunt’s personality than mine. She’s an upbeat, optimistic free spirit who also happens to be my godmother. I spent many a weekend with my aunt and uncle during my undergrad studies in Boston; as much as I dislike being called Lexi, there was something comforting about being called Lexerooni when I was so far from home for the first time.

Princess/The Princess – term of endearment used by my deceased Papa. I am the first-born grandchild, so I had a special place in my grandpa’s heart (although my younger brother is beyond awesome). Disney princesses factored into my childhood pretty intensely; my grandparents lived near Disneyworld in Florida, so I had the privilege of visiting the Magic Kingdom many, many times as a child. While I’ve had to undo some female socialization because of it, I still cherish the summers I spent riding Splash Mountain, making sheet forts, and eating sour cream and onion Pringles on my grandparents’ lenai.

Meine Kleine-poopshin – term of endearment used by my deceased Nana. I think it’s some German pun or Germanglish, since her side of the family is German. I probably should have asked her when I had the chance. My grandma was really the best. I wrote a Christmas play called “Robo Rudi” when I was 8 years old, and I remember that I cast her as Mrs. Claus and gave the character a fascination with buttermilk cookies. She took it in stride, wearing red underwear on her head as part of the costume. There’s a video of it somewhere.

Alielandra – Alexandra variant used by my dad.

Miss Christine Daaé – name used by my dad; spoken with the distinct accent of Marvin the Martian for some reason. I was obsessed with The Phantom of the Opera from ages 8-16, so…yeah. That’s about all there is to that story. Or at least that’s how I’m choosing to remember it.

Alieroo – Alexandra variant used by my brother. Somehow we ended up with the nickname “Roo” for each other, but neither of us can remember its origin. I suspect that we had some weird, twins-esque internal language and the word was part of it, possibly the equivalent of the singular ‘you.’ We also both like beagles and routinely invent names for the dogs that we will someday own (now that we no longer live with our strictly white-carpet mom), such as Pierre Barkington, Ald-a-roos Huxley, and Lieutenant Scruffles.

Mercer – my middle name and my mom’s maiden name; name I tried to adopt while I was in the domestic Peace Corps. While my friend from those days, Aubrey, still calls me Mercer, it never really stuck.

Pus/Mon amante – terms of endearment used by the person I thought I was going to marry. I can’t remember the origins of either of the names, although ‘mon amante’ is French for ‘my lover,’ so I imagine that I suggested it, given my conversational comprehension of the language. We were together for a long time. I don’t want to talk about it.

Lucas – used by my college tennis teammates. We all referred to each other by our last names, which seems to be a natural inclination when it comes to sports nicknames. Many of them have since gotten married, but I can’t help but still refer to them by their maiden names.

Big Al – used by randos in middle school. I was a solid 6 inches taller than everyone else by fourth grade, which made me a prime bullying target. Some charming child even had the audacity to say I looked like Cartman from South Park at some point; I still remember his name – do we ever forget our most hurtful bullies’ names?

Rivaini – the nickname for the pirate queen Isabela from the Dragon Age video game series; used by my friend Travis, whom I call Varric (another DA character). Travis and I met early on during our freshman year at DigiPen, and we bonded immediately over our mutual love for the DA series. Whenever one of us is feeling down or going through a tough time, we whip out the nicknames to perk each other up. Both of the characters are smart, capable rogues, so maybe, in a way, they’re the people we are and the people who we ultimately aspire to be.

Xandra – the worst name change I ever attempted. Some sad attempt to align myself with Xena. Just. Stop.

Boss Lady – used by my friend and fellow DigiPen student Jaclyn. Ever since I started working as a vendor at Microsoft, I’ve raised my attitudes and standards to meet the corporate bar. I had to learn a lot of things the hard way, but I’m grateful for the discipline and organization that the job has instilled in me. My strides are longer and more confident, and I move very quickly. As a 6’ tall, serious speed demon, I think I look pretty scary around school these days.

Alexandra – my given and preferred name. It feels regal, feminine, strong, and Greek (my family is largely Greek-Cypriot). My parents settled on a name that means “protector of humankind,” so, though I stumble, I proudly strive to live up to that name. It’s not only the name that I want to be called, but it’s the name that I also call myself.

Copyright Alexandra Lucas 2015

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