…represent personas in my opinion. All of the names that I have been given or called over the years say something about aspects of my personality or about the person(s) who “baptized” me.
Reportedly, my family nickname was born shortly after I was. My parents looked at me and said “We will name her ‘Michelle’ and we’ll call her ‘Shelly’.” From that moment on, neither parent uttered Michelle again.
My college nickname arrived sometime freshman year and it was a close dorm-mate, Sara from Oklahoma, who baptized me ‘Boobie’. The origins of this particular moniker are actually quite uninteresting. However, the speculations regarding a D cup on a small frame were interesting indeed!
‘Big Sister Moving Violation’ was a very short-lived title gifted creatively and generously by my sorority sister during junior year in college. It was only used as part of a greeting that pledgees would say out of respect. For that reason alone, as much as I love it for its clever description of one of my qualities (“That butt is always movin’!”), I consider it to be a name that has been retired.
While in graduate school, my boyfriend at the time, Manny, baptized me as ‘Shel'”. This relationship is significant because it is the longest one that I have had with a man to date. He tended to alter the names of everyone he knew. I liked the sound of his name for me whenever he called from another room…
‘Miguelita’ will always be associated with my indoctrination, initiation, and membership-by-injection, into Latino culture. When I moved to the Bronx I immediately began to work with families of Puerto Rican, Dominican, and Mexican descent. I was suddenly immersed in a culture of Spanish words, lyrics, aromas, flavors, and rhythms. ‘Miguelita’ (little feminine Miguel, little feminine Michael) was inspired by a colleague and special friend, Sandra, who appreciated my interest in her native Puerto Rico and her husband’s native Dominican Republic. For about fifteen years, between the hours of 8:00 and 3:20, I heard this name spoken respectfully and called affectionately.
During those same years, signing my entire name became tedious and it quickly deteriorated to my first two initials and last name, which then deteriorated to MTB whenever appropriate.
In keeping with my immersion into Latino culture, the names ‘Mich’ and ‘Michie’ (pronounced “Mee-chee”) were used by a Puerto Rican lover and a mother-in-law, respectively.
Finally…M.T.B. – – different from the rushed scrawl used hastily at work – – the reader and speaker has to pause after each period. M.T.B. represents the most reflective, introspective version of myself, which I am still ‘becoming’…