As of yesterday, I have officially given up on my name.
Even in America, people struggled with the name “Laurel”. It’s not a commonplace name, but it’s not completely bizarre either, yet people just could not wrap their minds around it.
“My name is Laurel.”
Even as I grew up in school, teachers somehow couldn’t get it. At times, during the first day of class of a new school year, an attendance sheet would get passed around and you’d make sure your name was on there and spelled correctly. I swear I can recall an occasion or two when I got the sheet only to find that “Laurel” had already been crossed out and replaced by “Lauren” (or something similar). As if my name was a typo.
I’ve always found the confusion doubly baffling because I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Where everyone goes skiing in the nearby Laurel Highlands and the state flower is the Mountain Laurel. And nobody ever messes those names up.
Upon moving to Dubai, where varying degrees of English fluency and a plethora of accents are bandied about, I knew immediately that there would be no point in trying to get my name across correctly – particularly in situations like ordering food, making reservations or almost any sort of phone conversation. In official situations I give it, but the two most usual responses I get are: (when speaking my name) “Ms Maurel?” and (when spelling my name) “L-A-U-R-E-O?”. I can see where the “Maurel” comes from, but I’m always confused as to why people insist on hearing the final “L” as an “O” when I spell it out.
And it’s to the point now that I don’t even bother giving most people my real name.
“Your name, ma’am?”
There, easy as pie. Who can mess that up?
Oh well, it’s still simpler to get Lara across than Laurel.
Then, yesterday, I hit rock bottom when dropping clothes off at a dry cleaner.
“My name is Lara, L-A-R-A.”
I look at the receipt to see “Liro” written down. I open my mouth to correct the name and suddenly realize that I cannot be bothered. You know what? Close enough. You’ve got an “L” at the beginning and an “R” and some vowels tossed in there. I’ll take it.