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Debbie, happily

I used to hate it when people called me “Debbie.” One of my very first blogs featured an image demonstrating this.



Only two people could get away with calling me “Debbie.” One was my little sister, Amelia; the other, my very first not-sister girlfriend, Sarah.

It was generally important to me that people take me Very Seriously. No one took my single-mom-of-four mother Very Seriously, a frustrating situation I didn’t want for my own life. “Debbie” wasn’t a remotely serious-sounding name. Deborah, on the other hand, was a name synonymous with wisdom.

But then, I didn’t really care if Sarah or Amelia thought of me as a Very Serious, worldly person, so it didn’t much matter to me what they called me.

I’ve recently felt OK with people calling me “Debbie.” I’ve taken this to mean they don’t see me as an imperious, incessantly serious adjudicator. I attribute this OK-ness to blogger Victo Dolore, whose blog helped me see why being called “Mommy” (not “Mother”) by someone other than my children might actually be pleasing.

Thinking of Victo Dolore’s “Mommy” post, I’ve thought people who call me “Debbie” might see me as someone friendly, approachable and human.

Which, now that I’m comfortable with and confident in myself, doesn’t strike me as half-bad.

I no longer snarl at people for calling me “Debbie.”

Still, it doesn’t feel right unless Sarah or Amelia are calling me Debbie. Then it’s magic. Then it’s: You are beautiful as you are, no matter what anyone calls you.

Tonight Sarah, newly arrived in L.A. with my favorite twins, exclaimed, “I can’t wait to see you, Debbie!” I fairly well melted.

sasrah and debbie

My life was much less enjoyable before Sarah.

Hearing her call me “Debbie,” I can’t help but think how much

I’d rather be called “Debbie” a million times over

than never be called Debbie again.

  1. June 19, 2015 at 9:46 pm

    There is nothing else cooler in blogging than knowing something you wrote has impacted someone else in a positive way. So thank you, my friend, for sharing that. 🙂 ((Hugs))

  2. June 19, 2015 at 10:47 pm

    My full name was only used at home when I was in deep strife.
    I no longer use it at all. I worked as the abbreviated version, pay tax under that name and got my passport in that name.
    Hearing the full version still gives me intense discomfort. What’s in a name? Quite a lot in my case…

    • June 20, 2015 at 5:51 am

      Understood. For me working as a negotiator, I met people who’d call me “Debbie” after asked not to. I think they felt they were putting me off-balance for our discussions,* when in fact they were affirming themselves as failed negotiators. I took no ownership for their choosing to be disregard a plainly stated request. But I still cringed when new folks called me Debbie … until very recently, though I continue to introduce myself as “Deborah.”

      * This is a terrible approach to negotiating. Collaboration yields much better results in both the short and long terms!

  3. June 20, 2015 at 3:28 am

    For those whom are actually called Debbie and not Deborah, I understand not your aversion.

    • June 20, 2015 at 6:02 am

      This is not a post about people who choose to be called “Debbie.” That is their choice. This is a post about one very specific person, myself, who has historically favored “Deborah” over “Debbie.” That is my choice.

  4. Deb
    June 20, 2015 at 5:51 am

    I am all in with Elephant’s Child. Deborah, in my case, meant I was going to be punished for something, especially when it came with the middle name as well. I’ve always been Debbie, which I don’t really like, so I went to Deb on the blog and at times that sounds trite to me. In short, had I been allowed to name myself I would have chosen something different although I can’t begin to imagine what that would be. I think that’s why it was so easy to settle into my kids many variations of mom, and now grandma.
    Names are really interesting from a social standpoint…our links to identity, ethnicity, class, even gender expectations based on the name we’ve been given and historical/cultural connotations associated with naming and names.

    • June 20, 2015 at 5:56 am

      I enjoy hearing these histories and insights about names!

      I sign most emails off “Deb,” because it’s short and to the point like me … outside my blog! I tend to think of myself that way, too, though I introduce myself by my full name because “Deb” feels like something earned instead of a starting point.

      And then there’s my real nickname. My mom hated it, but “Deefy” is the mark of anticipated enduring friendship.

      I meant to change my name at one point, but decided–eventually–my given name really did suit me. I’ll see if I can find that old post, because it shows so much of my feelings about (my) names.

      • Deb
        June 20, 2015 at 6:02 am

        Using my nickname, given to me by my dad, would most likely add more questions to the mix than anything, and signing “Bird” to official documents and such isn’t recommended I’m sure 😉

    • June 20, 2015 at 6:29 am

      Found that name post! I’m so glad I did not change my name.

      (Scanning through old posts to find this one, I found so many I can’t believe I’ve deleted. I think it’s time for me to start reposting the best of them here. They belong here. That means email subscribers will be temporarily inundated … but my blog will better reflect my history here.)

      • Deb
        June 20, 2015 at 6:36 am

        Amaranth? Millet? You must have been in a ‘grains phase’ during that time 😉

  5. June 20, 2015 at 7:21 am

    This struck a chord with me! I am not a Cathy. There is one person on the planet who can call me Cathy unironically, and that is the elderly neighbor, Norma, from where I grew up. The name just never fit. People who know and love me and want to call me a nickname call me CM, short for Catherine Marie – that is MUCH more me.

  6. June 20, 2015 at 8:37 am

    It’s so interesting how important names are. I used to hate when people used my full name, because it was what my mom used when she was mad at me. Then when I married Himself and moved to the US, I acquired a new surname (yes, I’m one of those unliberated women) … and as part of that change, I switched to using my full name. I accept that friends and family will abbreviate it, but it really irritates me when strangers do! Silly, but there it is.

    • June 20, 2015 at 8:41 am

      I, too, changed my name … as did each of my sisters! I think my mom would’ve been surprised. Pleasantly.

      I was thinking about the name thing after posting my last comment. I think what strikes me weird about strangers abbreviating the name immediately is that you’ve introduced yourself the way (presumably) you’d like to be addressed. If someone’s already choosing what’s most convenient for them, it could bode ill for what other conveniences might lie ahead!

      • June 20, 2015 at 8:44 am

        That’s exactly it! By introducing myself, I opened the door. I did NOT invite you into my bedroom!
        And then there are telesales people. Oy vey … who TEACHES those poor saps???

  7. June 22, 2015 at 8:36 am

    I refuse to be called Katie. My name is Kate. Katie is a little girls name. And, seriously, names that end in the “ie” sound are never taken seriously. Bambi. Candy. See? There are only two people that get to call me that, and one is Vietnamese and the other is from Boston, so I think it’s a language thing. 🙂 But I’m glad you’ve embraced your inner Debbie. I’ll stick to calling you Deb, though!

  8. August 8, 2015 at 11:45 am

    You want to hear something hilarious? When I first met you recently I wasn’t sure whether to call you Deborah or Deb/Debbie for short –

    & I swear to you, I had this distinct sense of “NO!” in my head & I just said to myself “Yeah, you’re not sure what she likes to be called yet so just call her how you met her, as Deborah.”
    & I guess I was doing it right too since you haven’t chewed my head off yet. Haha!

    You and your sister that I’ve also met recently here are sweethearts. Love to you and your family.

  1. August 8, 2015 at 7:59 am

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