Saturday, February 13, 2010

What's In A Name?

What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.

-William Shakespeare, spoken by Juliet,
Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

My name is Elizabeth. And I love my name. There are lots of wonderful women named Elizabeth doing all kinds of wonderful things. Actress Elizabeth Reaser plays TwiFandom's beloved Cullen Coven mother Esme. Fictional character Elizabeth Bennet is my favorite of Jane Austen's heroines. Elizabeth Blackwell was the first female doctor in the United States. Daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, Queen Elizabeth took the throne in 1558 and ruled for nearly 45 years. Queen Elizabeth II is the current figure head monarch. Crowned in 1953, her reign has lasted for nearly 57 years, the third longest in British history. I might add that both of these women governed without a king. I think my favorite Elizabeth is Elizabeth Swann, King of the Pirates. I mean, who doesn't want to be king of the dirty, sweaty, British pirates? I swoon (yes, I said swoon) when Will Turner whispers our name at the beginning of the movie. And when Captain Jack calls us, "Elizabeth, darling" I melt into a puddle of goo.

Perhaps the first name that comes to mind when you say Elizabeth is Elizabeth Taylor. Known for mysterious violet colored eyes, she was rich (the first actress to earn a $1,000,000 salary for her work in Cleopatra), seductive (married eight times to seven different men and might be called Elizabeth Rosemund Taylor Hilton Wilding Todd Fisher Burton {Burton} Warner Fortensky), doted upon (Taylor Burton Diamond, need I say more?) and considered the most beautiful woman in the world in her day. She could drink any man under the table. Yet, as powerful as she was, it seemed that fame gave her fans certain personal liberties over which she had no control, like deciding what she should be called. I read somewhere that she wanted this on her tombstone (Googled like crazy but couldn't find the exact quote):

Here lies Elizabeth Taylor. She hated to be called 'Liz.'

And I quite agree with her.

The name Elizabeth was chosen for me by my mother late in her pregnancy while she was up one night with the discomforts of growing a baby. She says it just came to her that if I were a girl (I was born in the pre-ultrasound days) that should be my name. And she insisted that I always be called Elizabeth; there were no nicknames allowed. As a teenager, my sort of rebellion was to have my friends start calling me Liz. It didn't last too long. I discovered that Liz wasn't me.

So, what do I like to be called? Elizabeth, of course. But that's quite a mouthful, or so I've been told. Most of my family drops the 'E' and just calls me 'Lizabeth. I don't go much for Beth or Liz. Eliza isn't a favorite either. So, if Elizabeth is too much and it must be shortened, I like Elle (you could spell it El, but that conjures visions of masked marauders with Spanish accents), and sometimes I sign my letters E. I have an aunt who calls me Libby and I think that is just fun. I also like Lizzie. Yes. I like Lizzie. You might be wondering what the difference is between Liz and Lizzie. Three letters and a whole lot of flirt. Liz is angular and severe. Lizzie just sounds like more fun.

What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Anne Shirley points out that a rose called a skunk cabbage just might not. This is my adorable family. They all have lovely names, but in order to keep their privacy I've devised nicknames for them while talking about them in the virtual world. DS, DD and DH are quick and easy, but I wanted something that fit each of them. In the virtual world, I go by LizzieBug. Sort-of. I blew my secret identity a long time ago because I really like my given name, Elizabeth. The Bug part of the name is the fact that I had a 1968 VW Bug when I was in college. My dad painted it for me. It was Candy Apple Red with an Oxblood back end and a zigzag on the sides where the color changed from one to the other. I loved it. LIZYBUG would have been on the personalized license plate (Lizzie is too long to fit) if I had been clever enough to think of it at the time. Branching out from there, I call our son, who is 10, Grasshopper but apparently I should have consulted with him first because he says he would rather be called Mantis. And our daughter, who turns 8 in just a couple of weeks, is LadyBug. That one isn't such a stretch because I've called her LadyBug since she was little. She had some cozy jammies with a ladybug on the tummy and I loved her in them. When she was five we had a ladybug themed birthday party. And my husband is Mr. Bug. He's fine with his pseudonym, as long as I don't call him Cockroach. And there you have it -- a family of Volkswagen loving, Pirate ruling, virtual garden critters.


Jennifer Lovell said...

This is a great post! This history of your name and family nicknames should stay up front on your blog for all newcomers to see. I love your name too, I love its four elegant syllables. When I'm feeling elegant, I use my full name, "Jennifer"...i.e. on all of my concert programs. Thanks for sharing your great journal entry.

Elizabeth said...

I love the name Elizabeth too. Over the years, I think I've been called every nickname that there is - even my summer as a camp counselor called "Lizard Breath".

Elizabeth said...

The ones who come up with "Lizard-Breath" think they're oh-so-clever. I give them my "I've-heard-that-one-before" smile and tell them, "yes, that's a funny one."

Vicki said...

I have a cousin Elizabeth, some of her family members call her Liddy. :)