So Many Names

The story of how I came to have so many names.

My parents named me Rebecca Lou Larson. Larson, my dad’s name. Lou, my mom’s name (actually her full name was Llewellyn – look at all those “l”s). And I don’t know why they gave me the first name Rebecca. Maybe I’m named after Tom Sawyer’s girlfriend Becky Thatcher. Or Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. Or maybe they were just picking a slightly unusual name. After all my brothers had unusual names for the time too – Jeff and Brett. No Marks or Davids or Steves for my brothers.

My best bet is that they chose Rebecca because it was a Biblical name, my parents being the Biblical types. The Biblical Rebecca was pretty important – the wife of patriarch Isaac and the mother of Jacob and Esau.

I like to think naming me Rebecca was a slight nod to another Biblical woman, Rachel. Rachel was my mom’s sister and my very special aunt. The Biblical Rachel was actually the niece of Rebecca, which I never knew, but my folks probably did. So it would have been logical to name me after one of Rachel’s nieces, but that would have made me Dinah, like Dinah Shore. Thank you, mom and dad, for not naming me Dinah. (and to be precise, Dinah was actually the daughter of Jacob and Leah, and Leah was Rachel’s sister, but Rachel was also Jacob’s wife, so maybe Dinah was actually Rachel’s half-daughter – I don’t know, I digress)

The meaning of my name is “To Tie, to Noose, To Bind”, which sounds a little sado-masochistic or kinky, which I’m sure my parents did not have in mind. I prefer the secondary meaning “enchantingly beautiful”.

As a youngster, though, I was always known as Becky to family, friends, schoolmates, teachers. If someone called me Rebecca, I kindly corrected them. As a kid, I thought Rebecca seemed a little too fancy. Too many syllables. I grew up with Cathys, Loris, Dianes, Lindas, Nancys, and Judys.

As I got older though, I concluded that Becky was a name for toddlers, or 10-year olds at best, and that it wouldn’t age well. It was a young name, but it was mine and what was I gonna do, change it? I pictured myself as “old lady Becky” with the paradoxical gray-haired straggly pigtails, a worn-through gingham dress, socks around my ankles, and Mary Janes (the shoes, not the weed, though smoking weed as “old lady Becky” seems to fit too).

After I got to be an adult, albeit one without a very clear purpose, I bounced back and forth between making jewelry, weaving rugs, country-living in a old farm house, and doing “temp jobs” in “The Cities”. One such temp job was at a large company where I accepted an assignment that was scheduled to last two weeks. A woman named Beth met me on my first day, shook my hand, and said “Hi Rebecca, it’s nice to meet you”. Obviously she had seen my resume clearly stating my official name. In a split second I thought to myself “Rebecca, huh, sounds kind of nice, let’s see how it goes.” I chose not to correct her, and in that moment Rebecca became my second name. The temp job which was going to last 2 weeks, kept going. It turned into a “real” job, which turned into an honest-to-goodness, who-woulda-thunk-it, career. After a few months it wasn’t like I could turn back now, could I? What was I to do, get on the intercom (is that even a thing anymore?) and announce “Effective immediately, I, Rebecca Larson, would now like to be called Becky. Please contact me if you have any questions.”

Whenever I told someone that many family and friends called me Becky, the usual response was “No no no, you’re not a Becky, you’re definitely a Rebecca.” I guess it fit.

When my niece Cedar was little, she couldn’t pronounce Becky, and it came out Betty. Obviously Cedar (now 22) grew up and learned to pronounce words with a “ck” sound, but Betty stuck with one person – my husband. He still calls me Betty, and sometimes he calls me Betty in front of a new acquaintance and I can see the person thinking to himself “wait, what, I thought her name was Becky. Is it Betty? Can I ask? I’d look like such an idiot.” (full disclosure – our friends Art and Sandy call me Betty too. And they call John Joan. And Sandy’s name is really Cindy, but we call her Sandy – I digress again)

Becca is the name that people give to me with no prompting from me or anyone else, they seem to just choose it. My mom sometimes called me Becca, and there are a few friends who just decided on their own to call me Becca, and I love that.

And lastly, almost my favorite is Bex (or Becks). I like it because Rebecca and Becky are the round-faced normal me, and Bex is the edgy me, and believe me, I’m not that edgy. The friend who first called me Bex is no longer with us, sadly, and there is literally one person on the planet who calls me Bex. She knows who she is.

But the rest of you can call me Bex too. Or Rebecca or Becky or Betty or Becca. Your choice. I answer to them all.

But wait. There’s one more. My sister-in-law, Linda, recently called me Rebecky.

So there’s Rebecky. Feel free to call me Rebecky.

© Rebecca Larson 2018

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