That look of terror on his face, I know it well. The moment has arrived for the host of our Zoom meeting to introduce me and he has no clue how to say my name. “It’s Nan-dih-nee” I’ve told him during the fourteen plus times we’ve seen each other in person. “It rhymes with Anthony. If you can say the name Anthony, that’s how you can remember it.”
I can’t tell you how many times I’m at a self-improvement seminar and I have to coach people about how to say my name. Jen Smith scribbles hers on a nametag with some kind of cursive-print hybrid and hands off the marker to me. As if I could write my name in pink highlighter? I feign gratitude before scouring the table for a black sharpie with the finest tip. A chisel tip will do in a pinch but only if it’s navy blue or hunter green.
First Name and Last, do I dare? Let’s see, that’s fourteen letters arranged in six syllables. A three by four inch nametag is more of a four-syllable name for sure. Five would be pushing it.
I settle on Nandini and a paw print. It says I’m all business yet whimsical because I love dogs. As I peel away the backing, I look down at my black sweater covered in white and brindle fur. What? I love dogs. Location is everything. Left shoulder just below my collar bone.
Now it’s time for small talk. I never grow tired of the pained smile on someone’s face as they try to decipher the strange configuration of letters on my nametag. Their confidence is bewildering. “Nan-dee-nee!” they proclaim. I almost don’t want to correct them.
And if I have to announce my name without the benefit of a visual aid carefully curated with the just the right note of playfulness and professionalism, then I hear “Nancy?”
No, it’s not Nantinny! I want to shout in their face. No one on earth is named Nantinny. I googled it just to be sure and Google is stumped by their ridiculous suggestion that my name is Nantinny. Even Google found this objectionable and returned with “Showing results for nandini”
Alas this burden is not mine alone. You might have heard of Kamala Harris. I sincerely hope you pronounced it “Comma-La” as you read her name. She’s only the Democratic vice presidential nominee for the 2020 election. You know Comma as in the bottom part of a semi-colon which let’s face it no one really knows how to use. And it’s La as in LA Law as Rose Nylund once referred to the series in an episode of the Golden Girls.
But seriously that’s not the only thing that Kamala and I have in common. We’re both moms. She’s Momma-la and I’m Lom which is what my bulldog, Dally, growls at me while he’s trying to get my attention. Kamala and I have Caribbean roots. Her dad is from Jamaica. Mine is from Trinidad. She’s a former district attorney. I’ve seen enough shows on Investigation Discovery to know how to build a case against any felon or at least evade law enforcement after an indictable offense. And we’re both…well this list stands for itself.
What was I saying? Oh right, I have no memory of what you said your name was.