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1:11 am

Well hello darling, what’s your name? What do they call you, honey? I’ve been called plenty, I can tell you. Here’s a list:

  1. Veronica. My first name. After some delay possibly whispered to me with kissing and disappointed relief. Perhaps sung to me by Mamáma or The Maids.
  2. Virginia. My older by two and a half years sister’s name. Mine too when my mother yelled it.
  3. Ronnie. My American grandfather’s name for me. His name for loving me. Don’t call me that. Only Grampa can say my sweetest name. His mouth saying his my name says I was something a bit different for him than anybody else was. So only him, yeah? Nobody gets to call me that call me Veronica. Don’t you come any closer. I never should have said. So now get out please. Go.
  4. Vicki. Great. My bully. My mortal enemy. The only other girl in my grade when we moved to Colorado and we both have V names which people found interchangable, even in an isolated mining town.
  5. Scrawny Ronnie. I was tiny. Don’t call me Ronnie.
  6. Vero — My mother would scream this at games in which if I had not been coerced into joining the team there would not have been enough of us to play. Go Vero!
  7. Bero — The way Vero sounds to American ears whose mouths called me that too.
  8. Bennie — Timed typing. Maybe six of us. Mr. Stroh behind his novel saying on the count of three one click two click click clack. Who’s cheating? It was Veronica. No it wasn’t it was James. Shut up Benedict! Benedict Arnold was a traitor not a cheater and to betray you I’d have to be aligned with you which I’m not. Veronica, load a new piece of paper. Hey let’s call her Bennie. It wasn’t me; it was James.
  9. Victoria — Nobody called me this in my home town. The town had one Vicki and one Veronica one Virginia and one Valerie. No Victoria and never any confusion.  In college the unsure of my name called me Victoria.
  10. Vern — College Friend: Hey Vern, know what I mean? I didn’t like it and then I did like it. This became my name.  Hi, my name is Vern.  Everybody calls me Vern.
  11. Vernie. Close friends, mostly in college, mostly females but for Tod where the hell is he? Who disappears in the information age? But Tod is only one of his what’s in a names and I can’t find him under any of them.
  12. Um. Coined by students finding Veronica too impersonal and Doctor or Professor Robertson or Browning or Tonkin too formal.
  13. Verne — Sounds the same as Vern. But the sound I hear from my inlaws’ mouths is spelled differently in South Africa. Verne is what they say when they say Vern.
  14. Maria — My middle name. Not my middle name.
  15. Robertson Gonzales Reyes — The names I was born with, a portion of which feels foreign and awkward next to my other names, depending on the speaker’s hemisphere of origin.
  16. Robertson — My first last name I used. Much more simple in America to think and not be required to speak the Gonzales Reyes part.
  17. Gonzales Reyes — My silent names.
  18. Browning — The name I never wanted. I stayed Robertson for over a year. Then I found the last thing my husband had been lying about. He was so relieved. I had stepped closer to the meanings behind the sounds of his names. The great burden of being known only partially had lifted from his shoulders and landed on mine like a toad on my shoulder. Whispering names in my ear. So I changed my name. It would help.
  19. Robertson — It did not help. I was Browning for maybe eight months. I was Browning when I finished my degree. Dissertation submission paperwork, should I write Robertson? I sent in Browning. And by the time I got Robertson back I didn’t want it anymore. The Robertsons had shown me their meanings behind their sounds too.
  20. Tonkin —  I love my Tonkins. I am an imposter Tonkin, so I am free to invent Tonkin history. Tonkins are good at hard things, I tell my children. And so they are.
  21. Bitch Cunt Whore Baby Babe Honey Sugar Sweetie Darlin Little Filly. Please feel free to add to this list. I know who I am to me. I want to know who I am to you. We all do.