Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Seattle Jennifer

Jennifer R., 42:

I’ve had many of the same experiences; a bad time with “Jenny” in first grade, nicknames Jeffiner, Conifer, and Refinnej, (spelled backwards,) and in ob-talk, Jobinobifober.  (That’s the one where you insert ‘ob’ in front of any vowel.)  

There were eight Jennifers in my eighth-grade homeroom, and the teacher just called out our full names. 

I love the song about 27 Jennifers – when I’m with my 9 year old son, we sing it at the top of our lungs when it comes on the car radio.  (“You could be the strange delightful one, you could be the sweet unspiteful”)


I was born in 1967.  My parents were going to name me Jonathan Scott, and my mother “just knew” I would be a boy, because to have a boy then a girl was “too perfect, just what I wanted,” she says.  When I arrived, they spent three days deciding what to name me, and Jennifer was close to Jonathan, and they didn’t know anyone by that name.  My mother hated the idea of me being called Jenny, so my father promised never to do so, and in fact, called me ‘Niffer until I married. 


One of the strangest things about my experience with my name is that when I was 9 or 10, my father’s sister decided to change her name.  Her given name was Ruth, and she had always hated it.  While I could understand that at the time, what made me angriest is that she changed her name to Jennifer. Just liked the way it sounded.   As we had the same last name at the time, I was furious!  How dare she take my name, even though she was then Jennifer Ruth and I was Jennifer Lynn.  None of the other Jennifers bothered me as much as that, not before or since.  

Growing up, it didn’t bother me much to share a name with so many other people, much in the same way that I don’t feel like I look like the person who I see in the mirror.  Even though I am very fair, I didn’t relate to the name or feel that it described me.  

I have always been such an (ahem) unusual person that I never worried about being confused with anyone else, although even now I sometimes get emails from friends who were meant for other Jennifers, or once in a while, a cell call from a college friend who confuses me with her friend, Jennifer H., which was the initial of my maiden name.  

Most of the Jennifers I have met have been very strong confident people, secure in themselves, perhaps from cultivating the girl/woman/person inside them to be recognizably different from the others. 


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