A friend recently asked if I was ever called Maggie or if I'd always been a Margaret.
That got me thinking about my name.
I hate my name.
I have never liked my name.
It seems fine to call other people Margaret.
It sounds agreeable enough when I say hello to another Margaret.
"Hello, Margaret!" I might say. And the name doesn't offend me.
It doesn't make me recoil or wretch.
It's just a name.
And a fine name at that.
But it's not for me.
I don't feel like a Margaret.
It doesn't fit me well.
Hangs off me all funny and weird.
Can't ever seem to wear it comfortably.
I don't like to be called by name.
Frankly, it makes me feel sort of sick.
When I was a chubby 3rd grader I decided I wanted to go by a nickname.
I wrote it in my clumsy curly cursive on the front inside cover of my books.
I said it out loud to myself in the mirror.
I liked it.
First of all Peggy doesn't sound anything like Margaret.
Margaret made me think of old ladies with tissues tucked in their cardigan sleeves.
I had recently made the acquaintance of my name sake, my Great Aunt Margaret.
My deceased Aunt Margaret lying stiff and cold in a coffin.
Sitting on the hard shiny wooden pew in the little church full of flowers and quietly weeping elderly relatives, my mother leaned over and whispered in my ear while nodding sadly toward the cold grey person in the hard shiny wooden coffin, "You were named after that lady."
Well, what do you say to that? Nice to meet you? Wish I had had the pleasure to meet you when you only had one foot in the grave?
Being a Margaret gave me the willies.
Peggy sounded fun and full of verve to me.
I desperately wanted to be fun and full of verve.
Peggy sounded alive.
Alive was good.
So, one day early in the school year, not long after attending the funeral of Dear Old Dead Dead Dead Aunt Margaret, I stood in front of my class and said, "I would like to be called Peggy from now on. Thank-you."
Peggy might have sounded alive and all that but really, Peggy isn't a good choice for a fat kid.
I might as well have handed the bullies a big stick and asked them to beat me.
A few days later I was back in front of the class, "I no longer wish to be called Piggy...Peggy. Please please stop. Please."
My classmates had short attention spans and it wasn't long before they started brutalizing a poor girl named Regina.
But at least the chorus of Piggy snorts that followed me around the playground eventually subsided.
So that was good.
I still wonder what happened to poor Regina. Anyway.
I could never really shake the feeling that my name was dusty and old and cold and dead and smelled like moth balls.
But at least Margaret doesn't rhyme with vagina.
Later in college, I met a nice young man.
He called me Nut Meg.
Meg is a nickname for Margaret obviously and I was completely fucking mad, so it worked.
He kindly dropped the Nut part. Not because I was suddenly not crazy but because he was a nice guy.
He called me Meg for a long time.
It almost stuck.
But then we broke up and I became Margaret again.
Dry as the grave covered in cobwebs Margaret.
I had a friend who called me Maggie.
I like Maggie, but Maggie sounds like a fun happy person.
Unlike my 8 year old self who wanted a vibrant name full of life and laughs, my 18 year old self was morose and macabre.
Maggie seemed too chipper.
Maggie seemed too perky.
I wanted to slap myself whenever someone called me Maggie.
Of all the nicknames I've had, Meg has suited me best I think.
Crazy Bitch is a close second, but it's sort of clunky. Doesn't roll off the tongue quite as well as Meg.
At my age it seems silly to start going by a different name.
I'm getting closer and closer to the age when I'll be stuffing wads of Kleenex in my sweater sleeves.
Eventually my name will fit me.