Or, an alternate title for this post could be: WHY I HATE BEING CALLED JENNY.
I was born in 1978.
Back then, Jennifer was a very popular name. Not only was it uber popular, but it was actually the #1 name registered with the Social Security Administration…for EIGHT YEARS IN A ROW.
As a child, I was always Jenny to my family.
Sometime in my tween years, my cousin began calling me…
Jenny Minny Money Penny.
He would sing-song it and drive me batty.
My witty comeback?
I called him Kevina. It was the only thing I could think of. His name was Kevin and I wasn’t really given a lot to work with. I’m horrible at making fun of people. It’s just not in my nature!
So I began to secretly destest being called Jenny.
In the sixth grade, I started spelling my nickname Jennie instead of Jenny. No one paid any attention, except for my sweet grandparents, who still spell it that way 20 years later.
I desperately wanted to be called Jennifer but with at least two other Jennifers in each class in middle school, that wasn’t happening. I couldn’t take Jen because Jenifer Jonstone had already beat me to it.
My loathing of my given name grew throughout middle school, and when I got to high school, it became even worse.
While I had perhaps 500 kids in my middle school, there were over 1000 in high school. There were tons of Jennifers in each and every class, and even being called Jenny wasn’t an option. There were already a few of those too.
So what happened?
Teachers started calling me by my last name.
I was referred to as Pridemore – not Jennifer, not Jenny, not Jenn…
As much as I hated it, I tried my best to embrace it.
I started wearing my father’s old Army jacket with the name tag sewn across the breast. I started signing my classwork J R Pridemore. It worked for F Scott Fitzgerald and J D Salinger, right?
I tried to make it work.
But I hated it.
I even briefly considered going by my dad’s nickname for me, which I also detested, JenRea – my middle name was Renea – because I was so desperate for an identity of my own!
As much as I hated it, Pridemore was what I was called all through my high school years. As I entered the work force, it stuck.
After I got married, my last name became Quillen and I started being called Quillen.
And then? Just Q. If I was lucky, my coworkers and supervisors would call me JQ.
Where am I going with this?
When you meet someone, don’t just assume you can call them whatever you want. If you meet a Jennifer, ask them what they prefer, don’t just automatically assume they like being called Jenny or Jenn. I actually don’t mind being called Jenn at all, and often introduce myself as such.
But Jenny? When people call me Jenny, I have flashbacks of my cousin holding me down and dangling a string of spit in my face, singing “Jenny Minny Money Penny…”
And then I will probably hate you forever.