Names and Saying Them

I have the horrible habit of, in my head, calling people by the name of what I think they look like instead of their actual name. For example, there could be a person named Butter, but I think they look more like a Jelly, so I’ll call them Jelly (not out loud, of course).

I’m making an effort to stop. I consciously use their actual names in my head were I to think of them. It’s in that brief moment when you first see someone when things spiral out of my control.

ARACHNID: “Hey, Butter… elly!!”

BUTTER/JELLY glares with the fire of a thousand flaming suns at ARACHNID. ARACHNID spontaneously combusts.

It’s a nightmare when you call one of your closest friends by something other than their name (that is also not an applicable nickname).

Except for a few mortifying instances, this issue thankfully doesn’t occur often because I tend to never use people’s names when I’m talking to them.

PEOPLE: Hey, Arachnid!

ARACHNID: Hi. (Note the lack of “People”)

I never really thought about not-saying-people’s-names until a few weeks ago. I can’t remember what prompted me to think about it. Possibly someone said my name and I thought, Huh. I never say that person’s name. Or maybe I was trying to get someone’s attention and my usual methods were insufficient and I had to scream their name, and it felt awkward in my mouth. When I usually try to grab someone’s attention, I put my sock on my hand, along with googly eyes that are always conveniently located in my pocket, and throw a spectacular puppet show. Sorry, just trying to get your attention, dear reader. Making sure you’re not yet bored out of your mind and simply skimming these words for any sort of emotion to break the predictable mundaneness of daily zombie living. When I usually try to grab someone’s attention, I tap their shoulders. If that fails, I’ll wave my hand obnoxiously in their face or simply give up and flop over like a deflated version of those dancing balloon people thingies outside of car washes.

On the rare occasion that I use someone’s name, I more-often-than-not stumble over it like a bunny leaping over a boulder the size of Mount Everest (I’ve lost track of that simile. OH WELL). It’s not how it looks. I know your name, I really do! Just… AHHHHH. I can pronounce words.

I think the name I stumble the most on is my own. You never really say your own name often, and with such little practice with it, I’m terrible at saying it. I can barely eke out the traditional pronunciation, and even then, I have to repeat it back to you; I can’t come up with it off the top of my head. But, as my name is my own, I get to decide how to say it, right?

Is it A-rack-nid, like a horrible hacking cough, or is it A-rah-ch-nid like that itchy rash?

The main reason I decided to go with a pseudonym (Yes, I’ll admit, it’s a pseudonym. My parents did not actually name me Arachnid Weaver. But I will deny it if you ever ask) is because the name on my birth certificate is a pain to pronounce. It’s not the worst out there, but whenever anyone asks me how to say it, I usually have to repeat it multiple times, and even then, it’s a fifty-fifty shot.

But sometimes even I don’t pronounce it right (according to the pronunciation I prefer. If we go the traditional route, I never say it right).

I was always trying to escape my name. When I was four, I asked my mom why they didn’t name me Golden Girl (I’m glad they didn’t. And, yes, four-year-old-me wanted a superhero name. She didn’t yet realize that they had secret identities. She thought Spider-Man’s parents named him “Spider-Man” as a powerless infant). When I was in kindergarten, I’d occasionally put a name other than mine on my papers (probably a pain for the teacher to sort, but at least I was consistent). When I was ten, I wanted to legally change my name for my birthday (I didn’t).

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Not Human

In early elementary school, up through third or fourth grade, I’d thoroughly convinced myself that I wasn’t human. Humans were far too mundane, to unmagical for my tastes. I was absolutely certain that one day I’d wake up and my true magical potential would emerge and I wouldn’t be a lowly human anymore. I was just waiting for that day to happen and simply passing the time in my human life. My humanity was a placeholder for my true magical self.

On top of believing that I wasn’t human, I would search for magical beings everywhere. I remember intently searching for leprechauns every St. Patrick’s Day with my friends. My house had a pond in the backyard, and of course there were mermaids in the shallow pond. They were lurking under the surface, biding their time and waiting for me to sprout my tail so I could join them.

All mythical creatures weren’t created equal. Mermaid, for instance, I’d take over human any day, but it wasn’t preferential. While mermaids did have their underwater cities, I didn’t want to leave land forever. Therefore, I would be a shapeshifting mermaid so I could still come to the surface and get ice cream on the weekends.

For fairy, which was mythical creature I most wanted to be (a human-sized one, not a small one. I didn’t want to be crushed underfoot.), I imagined having wings and practiced flapping them so I’d be prepared to fly whenever they grew. I practiced folding them away and fluttering them gently when I walked. I could feel them, and I could almost see them. I was so convinced they were real that I’d even briefly considered jumping off our second floor to test them.

In third grade, I was convinced that the existence of my canine teeth indicated that I was actually a vampire or a werewolf. I couldn’t decide between the two. I managed to persuade my friends that this was true as well. It turned out they were harboring doubts about their humanity too.

When I finally came to realize that I was a mere mortal and would never sprout magic powers or wings, I turned to writing. I wrote many “novels” about mythical creatures. I wish I still had them, but most I’ve lost and some I destroyed.

In third grade, during writing time, our teacher would give us a prompt. She usually wanted us to talk about our real lives and experiences, but I decided to do my own thing and write fiction. My novel was about these three cat-fairy sisters going on a quest of some sort to save their mother. I was so excited to reach twenty pages in my composition book.

I also wrote a picture book in third grade. It was about three friends at a vampire school going on an egg hunt for solid gold eggs. It was a competition between their whole school. A race. I remember one of the eggs was stuck on the roof of the school, so they decided to blow it down. And plot twist/cliff hanger: one of the characters is actually a werewolf. *Mind blown* This was revealed by one of the eggs having a werewolf engraved on it.

Slight detour from fairy tales: In fourth grade, I wrote about a fork who was terrified of being used. It’s about how fork are superior to spoons. I hold this belief strongly to this day.

Then back to fairy tales in fifth grade, I wrote a bunch of fairy tale retellings with the villain as the misunderstood protagonist.

I also wrote a “novel” about shape-shifting mermaids. I was super excited when I hit a thousand words. *Looks at ~800 word blog post written in half-an-hour. Looks at ~1,300 word essay written for English yesterday.* This novel was written in lieu of whatever assignment we had in the computer lab. It was also my first typed story. I deleted it after it devolved into overpowered characters, no real plot, and shell phones. I wish I hadn’t.

In sixth and seventh grade, I diverged from fantasy and wrote my first dystopian, which I didn’t finish. It was about a terrible war that destroyed human life. The main character was Annie, a normal citizen who struggled to make ends meet, whose parents just laid hopelessly in bed all day watching a blank TV, and only ate peanut butter & jelly sandwiches (except the bread was secretly cardboard). The other main character was Nikki, who was a privileged girl not really even aware of the war with an aloof, uncaring father. Plot twist: the father started the whole war. Annie and Nikki would band together to stop her father, but at the end, when it really counted, Nikki would choose her father over Annie and the war would continue. The end.