You are all wondering what it is about me that is so interesting. Upon meeting someone for the first time, we don’t usually remember their names but something about them. Whether it’s a physical feature or something he or she said that caught our attention. The one with the nice eyes or the one with the red hair or the one that has braces or the one that likes to go horseback riding or the one from Mars. That’s what sticks to us.
But I’m going to tell you right away, I am not interesting. I am far from interesting. I am rather boring. But most of all, I’m a mess. A big, complicated mess. But then again, aren’t we all?
So we’ve established that names are hard to remember, right? Right. Why, then, use them? Why say “Hi I’m ____” only to have the other person forget it three seconds after you’ve said it? Even common names are hard to remember. “What was your name again? Jennifer?” “No, it’s Samantha.” Remembering names isn’t my best feat, so I don’t expect others to remember mine.
Nonetheless, names are important. Growing up, I didn’t like my name. It was different and hard to pronounce. In a class full of Ashleys, Dereks, Johns, and Jens, I was the only person that had my name. Don’t get me wrong – I have nothing against the Ashleys, Dereks, Johns, and Jens of this world. I’m pretty sure some of them sometimes don’t like how they’re names are so common. But having an uncommon name wasn’t (and, at times, still isn’t) as fun as it seemed. Almost everyone got it wrong the first time. And it doesn’t help when you’ve got like three other nicknames family members call you. So when people say my name wrong, even after I’ve repeat it, I just sort of accept it. Once in the sixth grade, we had a substitute teacher with a strong French accent and when I corrected her after I heard her say it wrong, she said that’s how she said it but I heard differently but maybe it was her thick French accent. No use in trying to say the same thing over and over again. It reminds me of that scene in that movie or something I can’t remember where they call each other “Doctor” “Doctor” back and forth for a few moments.
Anyway, maybe it was because I was saying my name wrong. Honestly, I think that was the case. Even after living two decades my own name feels foreign in my mouth, like it doesn’t belong. When I hear someone else say my name it sounds just fine. But hearing my own voice say it sounds weird. I guess that’s why I’ve always preferred someone else introducing me.
Sometimes I spell it out for them and they get my name right. I guess it’s easier that way, but it’s also makes things to complicated. “No, it’s ——-.” That’s just too much words, too much things to remember which is quite frankly more likely to be forgotten.
But now I’m starting to learn my name. Take it more seriously. Names are important. It’s our identity that’s been given to us sometimes even before we are born. It’s an unspoken honor that we live up to that name.
So what’s my name? My name is Larlene. Pronounced “luh-are-lean”. I’ve heard it pronounced and spelled wrong a lot of other different ways from Larline to Laralyn to “Lah-ar-nee”. In the sixth grade a boy wrote behind his school photo “To: Narlene”, which come to think of it, sounds kinda like gnarly and that’s cool. And that’s okay. It doesn’t bother me. As long as it’s close enough, I usually let it slide. I had another substitute teacher in the fifth grade that pronounced it “luh-are-lean-ee”. I didn’t like that. He made it rhyme with weenie, which totally ruined my street cred.
Some people call me Lar, Len, or Larlen. I will respond to those. Some other people call me Um, So-and-So’s Sister, or Hey. I will also respond to those. Others have called me Girl, Eh, or You. I’ve been not so receptive to those.
Larlene is a pretty unique name. You often don’t meet a lot of Larlenes. Just recently I Googled my name and found at least four other people that have my name. There’s even a song on YouTube written about my name, and there’s also another song on YouTube. They’re both kind of weird country songs, which disappointed me just a bit. But don’t mistake my name for the famous ship Lurlene. Obviously that’s a different name, but similar. My parents had a hard time naming me. After three other children, I think they’ve run out of names. I left the hospital with the wristband that said “Baby Girl ——-” and I think it took them a week to figure it out. (I’ve been told that now you cannot leave the hospital without naming your child first.) They looked at a children’s name book and liked the name Darlene. Since my siblings’ names start with L, they wanted to keep that pattern so they just switched the D with L. Thus, Larlene was born.
An assignment I had in my creative writing class during my sophomore year in high school was to write a name poem. It wasn’t until then that I found out that my name actually meant something.
According to BabyNamesCountry.com, “The Irish name Larlene means – promise”. Irish, wow. I never thought my name could be of Irish origin. I’m 100% Filipino, so you get the picture as to why I was so surprised, why I am still surprised.
Promise. Why promise? As the saying goes “Promises are meant to be broken”, and at 15 I think I was, and thought I would always stay that way. Promises are burdensome and rather heavy. It’s such a difficult name to live up to. Why couldn’t my name mean something simple like “Heavenly Flower” or “White Wave”? Promises should be kept. They are like secrets and are rather special. I am no one special.
But since then, I took a little bit more pride in my name. I’m determined to keep that promise to myself that I’ll live up to my name just a bit more. I’m still learning how to say it right. I’ll probably be working on that for the rest of my life.
So, with that being said: My name is Larlene. I am ordinary, nothing special. I wear contacts because I don’t like the indentation my glasses make on my nose. I don’t know how to swim, even though I have lived on an island since I was born, but I do know basic sewing. Sometimes I think I was supposed to be left-handed. I’m a procrastinating perfectionist, and apparently that’s the worst kind. I used to want to be a teacher, then a nurse, then a children’s book writer, and now most of the time I want to be a graphics designer, but mainly I just want to be.