The Name Game

I was born Leslie Anne, but for reasons I have yet to understand my parents decided to call me Lee Anne. From the time I was small until the day I die, the need to explain this phenomenon to people arises frequently. All through my school years I spent weeks with new teachers reminding them that I wished to be called by a name unrelated to what they read in their attendance roster. Today it’s a little more complicated – my checks say Lee Anne, my driver’s license says Leslie, and so forth.

I am the daughter of a locally famous radio personality. When I met new adults as I was growing up, I was nearly always asked if I was related to him. Or I was introduced only as So-and So’s daughter, my name left out completely. It was confusing. I felt proud to say yes, he’s my dad, but invisible as the conversation focused only on my father’s many accomplishments.

I married young and moved away, and even though my new name didn’t sound right, I thought I would be relieved to do away with trying to individualize myself from my father’s name. But my ex-husband is an extremely funny, comedian-like man; folks loved to be entertained by him. He was always in the spotlight. I couldn’t get a word in. I overheard people referring to me as So-and-So’s Wife.

So I busied myself with homemaking and being super-mom to our four great kids, and so became known as the kids’ mother.

Occasionally I would try to grab a little attention by bragging that my dad was the famous radio guy, but since we lived on the edge of his broadcast range, folks either hadn’t heard of him, or if they knew who he was, they didn’t believe me.

After sixteen years, I divorced my not-so-funny-anymore husband, and began life anew with the kids. I didn’t want my married name anymore, and besides I always liked the ring to my maiden name with my pseudo first name. So when the divorce papers were signed, I got my name back.

I was on my own for fifteen years. My kids are all grown and gone. I married again a few years ago, to a man who is quiet and strong. With no celebrity parent or funny-man husband to compete with, I am having fun exploring who I am. I’ve gone from being a dependent accessory to the men in my life, to a mostly self-confident individual who is finally capable of independent thinking and choice.

Now when I am introduced, I’m not confused. I’m just me.

The Name Game

Lee Anne French

Elma, United States

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Artist's Description

Essay – my lament on having too many names


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