A Rose By Any Other Name

Something I was reading recently posed the question: Have you ever changed your name? For me, the answer is yes, I’ve changed my name three times in my life. The first time I changed my name was when I got married to my first husband. That was 1977, and while I say “I changed my name,” the fact of the matter is that the government changed my name when I said “I do.” Back in those days, had I wanted to keep my maiden name, I would have had to have it legally changed back to my birth name.

When I got married the second time, I had more options. I chose to keep my name instead of taking Bill’s last name. The reasons were twofold: 1) I was known professionally as Kristine Zierk, and it seemed problematic to all of the sudden have a different name; and 2) my son’s last name was Zierk, and for his benefit, I thought it would be nice to share the same last name.

Bill was quite understanding about my choice, but I knew it sort of bugged him. It wouldn’t have bugged him if my last name was my maiden name; however, given that my last name was that of my first husband, it troubled him a bit. So after a few years of marriage, I chose to adopt Zierk as my middle name (no hyphen). To tell you the truth, I never did anything legally to make this change. I just started calling myself by that name. I reckon by now, some 25 years later, it’s as legal as it’s going to get.

I’ve always thought that my dad and mom did a good job of naming their kids. I checked the internet to see what the most popular girls’ name was in 1948, the year my sister Bec was born. Suffice it to say that Rebecca didn’t make the top 30. But isn’t it the prettiest name? Linda was the number 1 girls’ name that year.

Kristine didn’t make the list of most popular names in 1953. In fact, according to the site I used, the highest level of popularity Kristine ever reached was 104th in 1966. Sigh. But the good news is that in 1953, the name Rebecca had snuck in at 24th place. I think my sister was responsible for its sudden popularity.

But I’m not alone, because the name Jennifer was no where to be found in the popularity list of 1957. Nowhere. Zippo. The name Mary claimed the top spot, as it had for the past five years. Rebecca was gone after its quick appearance in 1953. But some good news for me: the name Kris (not Kristine) was number 462. Four hundred and sixty two? Seriously?

Every time my mother was pregnant, the plan was to call the baby Ricky if it was a boy. All three girls would have been Ricky had they had the Y chromosome. I’m pretty sure that idea can be attributed to I Love Lucy. But suddenly, when my parents finally get their boy, he is named David. David is not a family name (though my brother’s middle name of Albert is from my paternal grandfather), nor did Lucy and Ricky Ricardo have a second child named David. Perhaps my mother had a crush on David Niven. Who knows?

At any rate, I’ve always been pleased that our names, while not weirdly odd (like Apple or Zuma), they are somewhat unique. Full disclosure: when I entered the 7th grade, I decided that I wanted to start being called Krissie. In fact, our junior high principle always called me by that name. I’m happy to say the name didn’t stick.

2 thoughts on “A Rose By Any Other Name

  1. I had 2 Debbies and 3 Susans in my class at St. Bons. No Mary. But I’ve always been glad Mom & Dad named me Jennifer.

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