When our mother was expecting me, my parents already had three sons and four daughters. They thought that I would be a boy, you know, to even out the numbers: four of each. They only had a boy’s name picked out, chosen in honor of my father’s only sibling, his adored brother Stashu. Yep, my name, if I had been a boy, would have been Stanislaus Florian.
I decided to be born a girl. This immediately put my parents on the spot: what to name this baby girl?
My siblings had some ideas: “Trigger” or “Dale” (as in Dale Evans who played opposite Roy Rogers who rode Trigger). One brother pushed for “Sheila”, he had a crush on a Sheila and thought that if his baby sister had the same name, well, it would be kismet. This is the same brother who routinely offered his sisters up the Discalced Carmelites in exchange for good marks on tests. As far as I know, my sisters didn’t offer much in the way of suggestions, but all my sisters had long and lovely names that had been changed into nicknames. Our mother didn’t care for nicknames.
The nosey neighbor, Isabel Branigan, cracked, “Well, every good Catholic family needs a Mary…” My parents took the bait and my first name was chosen. “It is such a short name no one will ever be able to give her a nickname!” my mom delighted. (She was wrong. Of the eight of us, I believe I have the most and the most annoying nicknames.)
“True. And ‘Isabel’ is a nice name,” my father mused.
“I’ll send the baby back if we name her Mary Isabel,” My mother fumed. “’Elizabeth’ is good. The Queen is Elizabeth….”
And so, Princess Charlotte, you and I share a second name, and may you never have a nickname.