Wednesday, June 11, 2008

What's in a name?

From the years 1981 thru 1984 I worked with Jan teaching Special Education. Each winter and spring we had a team that participated in Special Olympics. It was a rewarding four years. We grew to love each student and appreciate every little milestone that they reached. Over the years I have occasionally seen a few of these kids and have kept track of some of them. For the most part they have all been able to lead fairly productive lives, thanks to programs designed for those with special needs.

This morning while out for my walk I had an unsettling experience. At first I thought the couple on the sidewalk in front of the IHOP was homeless. (At 6:30 in the morning I see lots of interesting things.) The guy looked to be in his mid-30s and had a familiar face. He was looking at me with a strange expression and then suddenly said "You look just like Mrs. Be***rd!" After my initial shock the only reply I could come up with was a sincere "You have an incredible memory". (Athena and Eris, did you just spew?) The man was one of my former students (he is not in the above photo) but I'll be darned if I can remember his name.

As I finished my walk I realized that I was nauseous from this innocent encounter. I was also uncomfortable with the realization that for some people I will be forever associated with that moniker. This is not the first time, nor certainly not the most unpleasant experience I have had with it. In 1988 I had it legally changed and was proud to go back to my maiden name for a few short years. In 1991 I married Zeus and was thrilled to take on his honorable name.

What's in a name? More than you realize.



Muriel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Muriel said...

Sorry, my deletion.

Lucky for you, we don't associate you that way. Maybe you should just go by your first name. You know like "Madonna". That's how you are known around our house anyway.

Eris said...

AAAHHHHHH! I still cringe when someone from high school refers to me as that. As an ultra-feminist it was hard to give up my identity when I got married but circumstances made it so I was actually quite anxious for a change.

I think the disturbing part of the story is that one of your special education students can remember your name from 30 years ago but you can't remember his...

Numismatist Facts said...

A little clarification: The man was not in my actual class. He was in another class in the unit of three classes and I believe it was only for one year. (That is called rationalizing.)

When Zeus and I got married I considered not changing my name but quickly discarded that idea. However, it did take me a year to agree to sell my condo.