What’s in a Name

William Shakespeare said, “What’s in a name, that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” My name is Al’ene, according to my father that is the correct pronunciation; and as he told my secretary at work, he should know he named me.

My first memories start at age 4, the family called me Nene, no one can tell me how that came about, even my dad who named me did not know. One explanation could be that my brother, eighteen months older, may be the one who first called me that. My dad never called me Nene but I was called Nene up until the last of my family on my mother’s side passed away.

When I started school, I was always known as Al’ene when people could get it right, sometimes it came out as Arlene, I have never been able to understand why people think they see an “r,” usually people just cannot remember my name.

To make things easier as a teenager starting my first job, I told people they could just call me AL, that is until my mother heard someone call me that and then she hit the roof. Your name is Al’ene and that is what you will be called, that is a beautiful feminine name, Al is some ruffian man working as a mechanic. It turns out she did not really like mechanics, as that is what my dad was doing when I was born. She actually met and married him when he was a handsome navy man in uniform.

Once people start calling you one thing it is hard to get them to change back to your actual name. People rarely got it right; it was Arlene, Ilene, Elaine, A’lene, or just “what was your name again?”

I met a boy in high school and he called me A’lene. I usually did not bother to correct people, as it was a hard name to remember anyway, so if I did correct them they rarely remembered it right the next time. Michael and I were high school sweethearts and married two years after high school. Well now I had a dilemma, the boy I was marrying could not say my name right and people often looked confused when we each said it differently. The solution I felt was for me to start going by A’lene so in 1967 I became this new person, well actually it was only a new name.

The marriage lasted only 2 ½ years but the name stuck through the next marriage of eleven years and my career of forty years. In 1996, I married again and while this marriage continues today, my current husband Jim calls me Al’ene, which made my dad happy in his final years. Now when I meet new people, my husband introduces me as Al’ene and I still say A’lene, so once again people looked confused. Sometimes Jim calls me Al.

In addition, to make matters worse, my maiden name was Burnett, no “e” on the end, my first married name was Coale – spelled C O A L E – so most people got that wrong, my second married name was Papineau, well you can imagine, I also had to spell that one.

My current name is Reaugh– R E A U G H – the ugh is silent and you guessed it, I have to spell that one every time, plus everyone wants to call us Re-ugh.

I pretty much answer to most things so you can call me anything, except as my old mother used to say, late for dinner.

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