It happens every single time I meet someone for the first time. They extend their hand in greeting and say their name. I say “It’s nice to meet you, I’m Brandi’”. And then I watch as they process what I’ve just said and they stumble while repeating it back to me. “Brandy?” I force a smile and say more with my voice slightly elevated so I can be heard “No, Brandi’”. Usually this results in a nod and I know they have no clue how to say it back to me. Sometimes, they will attempt again and fail so I use the expression that my mother taught me when I was old enough to form a sentence. “Brandi’, like a brand new day.” Then I see the light bulb go off and they smile and say “Oh, that’s different! Pretty!” And I don’t mean to, but I literally roll my eyes internally.
There is an accent mark over the “I” of my first name. This is not the proper placement of it, of course, but my mom didn’t know that at the time. She was attempting to create a unique name for her daughter to match what she knew would be a unique woman one day. She is also a bit of a hippie at heart.
I was born to a Robert and a Deborah. Both strong, lovely, NORMAL names. So due to the fact that my mom felt that she had grown up with an “average” name that people could pronounce properly the first time, she wanted to give her daughters names that would set them apart, be “different.” She told me that she and my dad liked to drink Blackberry Brandy and sit in the living room and talk – hence when I was probably created. Also, a very popular song called “Brandy” was on at the time and when it was being sang, the last part of the name drew out making it more like “The sailors say ‘Brandddaaayy’ you’re a fine girl.” These were all reasons for her choosing my name, the spelling, and the prounouncation of it.
It was rough as a kid. My teachers constantly messed up my name. Everyone left the accent mark off because there were no ways to “type” it properly. My friends eventually got it, but it took some time. I would repeat the mantra “Brandi’, like a brand new day” over and over again maybe to reassure myself that one day someone would say it right the first time.
And then I went to high school. By this time in my life my parents had chosen to uproot me from the boy I loved, all of my friends, and a really beautiful place (Florida) to this god-forsaken rural town in North Carolina. My first day of freshman year, I wore a maxi skirt to school. UM- they were NOT in style yet. So, I basically was given a badge of NERD from day one. That combined with the fact that I had a weird name that no one could say was a given that I would never be popular.
High school was awful, except for my teachers. My favorite one, Mrs. Childers (who I am now Facebook friends with- how cool is that?) pronounced my name beautifully. It was then that I realized that only educated and sophisticated people would get me. I think I had three friends in all four years of high school. And they were all boys.
Once I left high school, I entered the workforce. My name was butchered constantly. At 18 years old I went into property management, as a leasing consultant. I was living in Fort Worth, TX at the time and I made the decision to change my name to “Brandi – no accent mark”. Life was easier. When I answered the phone, people got my name right away! So this was life with a “normal” name? I liked it!
Until the day my mom called my office and I answered “Thank you for calling the Horizons at Fossil Creek, this is Brandi, how can I help you?” (This was before caller ID came into existence.) There was a long pause. “Excuse me, but that is NOT your name Brandi’! “ along with a host of other points that only a mother can harbor against you- something about carrying me for 9 months and birthing me.
When I met my husband, he was intoxicated so I will grant him the benefit of the doubt because he mistook my name as “Barundi”. I’m not joking. Although, I didn’t believe him when he said his last name was “Starbuck”.
I purposefully named my children common names. To me, common meant “normal” and “pronounceable”. I imagined them becoming CEO’s of large companies and at awards’ ceremonies having their names announced. I wanted to be sure that their names were clearly understood the very first time.
As I sit here and think about my daily interactions, it’s comical to me how many times I rely on an alias of my name to just have an easier time of it. For example, when I call any customer service number, when they ask my name I simply say “Brandi” so there is no extra explaining involved. When I’m at the counter at Chick Fil A, it’s just “Brandi”. When I answer the phone to a new client and they ask for “Brandi” my reply is “Yes, this is she.” When I get recognized by my company and the announcer is reading off my name it’s always “Brandi”. If I win something by someone who doesn’t know me, it’s “Brandi”. When I have attempted twice to introduce myself to someone new and they still don’t grasp it, I throw in the towel and shrug my alias into existence. I even think on my wedding day our officiate may have called me the other name a time or two. We hired him and only met with him once or twice – but you get the idea.
Beyond the inconveniences and the annoyance factor of having a “unique” name, I will say that when someone does finally grasp my true name – it’s one they will never forget. My mom says that everyone who mispronounces it is a complete idiot. She says my name with the emphasis on the “Day” at the end and says that it’s the most beautiful name she’s ever heard. I hate to tell her that she’s a bit prejudice. But it is a beautiful name. When said correctly, it is truly lovely sounding. It sounds exotic and romantic and exciting. And it embodies everything that I am. Unique. Beautiful. Strong. Exciting. Fun. Complicated. Dramatic. And it has provided me with that perspective of every day is a brand new day. Which is why I’m right where I’m supposed to be.