Call me Malia.
No, seriously, I want you to. That’s my name. I happen to be one of those lucky few with a name that I actually like. Scratch that. I adore my name! My name was selected carefully by my parents, and I’ve always loved how different and unique it is. The year I was born, the most popular names for girl babies were names like Jennifer, Ashley, and Nicole (just to name a few). While those names are fine and lovely, I always felt pretty special because I had such a wonderful name.
Today I had to call my dad at one of his jobs. I told the receptionist my name, who I was, and who I was calling for. In fact, I ended up saying my name twice. Now, when she went to transfer my call, she said, “Okay, Maria, I’m going to put you on hold.” Really? I said my name twice, I have excellent enunciation, and it was a clear phone line.
Why do people have so much trouble with my name?
Growing up, I always had people telling me, “I just can’t ever seem to get your name right.” My high school superintendent had to have me tell him the proper pronunciation at graduation rehearsal; because after 3.5 years of me being in his school, heavily involved in music and drama, he still had no idea how to say my name.
My name is always getting spelled strangely as well. Meleah, Melea, Milia, and Maila are just a few of the versions. And I’ve heard as many different pronunciations. And yes, I realize that technically there are several different accepted pronunciations.
Last summer, I had one of the worst experiences with my name. I had only been at my job a few months, and I had taken a specimen to another department. The woman I took it to (who has since retired), asked me what my name was.
Her: How do you spell that?
Me: M A L I A
Her: Oh, (this is how she pronounced it) Maul-ee-Uh
Me: (trying to remain calm and polite) *nervous laugh* Um…No…It’s (me pronouncing it) Muh-Lee-uh.
Serioulsy? Who in their right mind does that? If I tell you my name, I expect that you aren’t going to try to tell me how you think it should be pronounced. If you tell me your name is pronounced Jenny, Phil, or Raxacoricofallapatorius, I’m going to accept that. I won’t call you Genie, File, or Raslkdfjpqoiwfen.
It really does baffle me why it is such a challenge for people. It’s five short letters, and it’s pretty easy to say.
So, if you’ve got a name people constantly butcher, let me just say, “I know those feels.”