Hey, Elv- EYE – Ruh!

Like fingernails on a blackboard I have heard my beautiful name pronounced that way all my life.  My first name is spelled E-L-V-I-R-A. Since before I can remember, the way American's tend to pronounce that combination of letters was my personal little hell.  Beginning in kindergarten I could either have a sense of humor over my teachers' reaction when I corrected them or grind my teeth. My name is pronounced El-VEE-dah. "Well, gee, it isn't spelled that way!"


My parents gave all their kids classic Spanish names. Despite the obstacles, I love my name. It's old fashioned, like Margaret or Mary; just not as phonetically obvious to Americans (although I'm happy to say that nowadays people are more sensitive and sophisticated about getting the pronunciation right.) Back in the day, well-meaning friends and grown-ups tried to talk me into using a more simple nick name. With a tenaciousness not usually seen in a five year old, I refused. My name was a point of pride, a flag to rally around. I was not going to conform to the world. The world would conform to my name. Did the name make me stubborn? Or was I stubborn and the difficult name just made it stick?

Adversity builds character. Isn't that what people say to kids when life stinks? Well, I think my 'strange' name really did work that way for me. I learned to be assertive, patient with people and not take their ignorance or prejudices personally… Until that god-awful song came out, that is. That song! Ugh! Let's not go there. It's just too painful.

Johnny Cash's song, now that was better!  I love A Boy Named Sue, about a man fighting through life with a difficult name. For me, it's cathartic, fun and true.

Can you relate to any of this? Do you have a similar story? Did you choose a nick-name that worked better for you? Change your name legally? Did you stick with the challenging moniker? Do tell.