M’problem, m’Lord, is that my real first name is easy to shorten. So although I have the longer, formal name; I also have its friendly diminutive as well. Growing up everyone used the latter and the former was only uttered In Times of Dire Peril (e.g. by teachers when I was in trouble).
As I got older, it became completely associated with formality – banks and the like – and I tended to forget I had this longer name. Once, in an early job, someone rang for me using the full name and a colleague asked me if I knew a ‘__’, to which I gave a blank stare until recognition washed back a brain cell. ‘Oh – that’s me!’ I said, sheepishly taking the call.
It’s not like the real name is a fantastical name, like Petronella or Eglantine. It’s a nice, ordinary, name. But somehow I never associated it with me. I picture owners of that name as very confident, power-suit dressed females, who wear court heels every day and tap blackberries (phones. Not fruit. That would be wrong). They don’t wear paint splattered jeans, carry a Tabby cat on their shoulders, get lost in bookshops or trawl London in search of a cupcake. (And admittedly I don’t do all these things at once.)
However, there is a slight problem with the diminutive name. The worst problem at first was that other people with the name tended to sign off with an ‘ie’ and draw a little heart over the ‘i’. I do not sign off with an ‘ie’ or draw little hearts over my ‘i’s. One is not six. (Of course one is not six. One is one. But you get the gist.) The other problem, which grew into the worst problem over time, is that hardly anyone takes that name seriously. My diminutive name gets put on hold, gets lost in call queues, gets fobbed off by secretaries. My power-suit wearing name gets put through to the boss. It’s the same thing with email. Power-suit goes straight to your Inbox. Diminutive gets to play with Viagra in your spam box.
And in-between both these names, is Jayne. Jayne is, fittingly, my middle name, and was created purely to frolic online, un-tethered by power-suits and fwuffy puppies. There are reasons, boring self-esteem-ish reasons why I came here as Jayne, but here she is... I am, rather. And here be my problem.
Who the hell am I?!
Am I power-suit? Am I fwuffy pup? Am I Jayne? None feel quite right, yet somehow, inexplicitly, I am all three.
(Ferst is not my surname either. Oh how complicated I make things for myself!)