Existential name crisis, party of one


Working at Borders for the first time in, oh, five months last week, I was reaquainted with a once-familiar phenomenon — older men flirting shamelessly with me. Most of the time I take it in stride — they’re nice guys, really, and they don’t mean anything by it. Though one man in a jaunty hat once tried to hold my hand, most of the time it goes no further than a smile and comment on my — ahem! — stunning beauty.

Take last week, for example. While I joined a customer in his quest to find a particular CD in the seriously downsized music department, he said to me shyly, “You know, it’s so nice to walk with a beautiful lady.” Okay, how can I really take offense with that? Then he asked me my name, of course, and I told him: “Megan.”

My name. Megan.

“I’m sorry?” he said, his eyebrows soaring to heights typically only seen by rocket ships. “Meeeegan?”

Megg-inn,” I repeated patiently, taking the volume up a notch. “You know, Megan?”

By no stretch of the imagination would I call my name “unusual.” In middle and high school, I was often one of three or four spiritied Megans in a classroom. In fact, in an attempt to not have to reply “WHICH ONE?” every time a teacher called out my name, I actually tried going by my middle name for a short period of time! (It never worked — I’ve never responded to “Lynn” in my life. It’s just not me.)

So you can imagine my confusion that the name “Megan” would produce such a disoriented reaction from my customer. My own confusion turned to delight, however, when he uttered the following sentence:

“Are you British?”

Am I British? Am I British? No, sir, but I would certainly not argue with becoming British someday! (And if I continue to read so much British literature, obsess over Jane Austen and lust over London nonstop, I just might convert whether I want to or not.)

What he was referring to, of course, was the fact that I introduced myself as “MEGG-INN” — emphasis on the “Meg” in the beginning. From the time I was old enough to realize other Megans existed in the world, this debate has been raging: do we pronounce our names “MAY-GINN” or “MEGG-INN”? Which is right? Is there a right? How do I say my own name?

I told him I was definitely American and he replied, “Oh, that’s funny — because I’ve just never heard it pronounced that way before.”

I’ve grilled my parents on this topic extensively, and I always get the same response: they call me “May-ginn,” emphasis on the “May,” and they’re the ones who named me . . . so that’s my name. And the funny thing is that I agree with them — my own name probably should be pronounced with the “May”! But I can’t say it that way. In fact, I never call myself “May-ginn.” Do I answer to it? Absolutely. Do I pay attention to which form folks use when addressing me? Not so much. So I’d say I’m cool with it regardless, but I just don’t know.

How do I say my name?!

Other Megans have to be out there — and they have to stumble across this! (Meghan, I’m eyeing you!) Regardless of spelling, how do you say your name? And if you have a special Megan in your life (including me, you sweet things, you!), how would you pronounce my/her name? Has anyone else ever gone through a name crisis, or had to deal with a lifetime of pronouncing a unique name?

12 thoughts on “Existential name crisis, party of one

  1. Now, see you and I have a similar problem (with similar names!) Reagan can be pronounced a lot of different ways – mine is like the president. And I won’t try to list all of the ways to pronounce it — you are a lot better at that than me. I really don’t have anything else clever to add – but I found your story really funny!


  2. My name isn’t Megan, but Theresa. With an H. Said as Ter-esa or whatever. Growing up, I thought this a pretty standard, and boring, name. No one ever had trouble saying it. My biggest issue was people never writing the H. My third year in college, in a horrible statistics class, I had a professor who insisted on all of us using these cards propped on on the tables with our names on it. He called me the-resa. pronouncing the th sound. I corrected him repeatedly. I even put a big X through the H on my name card, to no avail. Now tell me, what was that about?


    • That’s crazy! Why in the world would he think you’d pronounce the H?! I had teachers in school who would repeatedly mispronounce my last name — no matter how many times I corrected them. How frustrating!


  3. I say mine the way you do – “Meg-inn.” I get more of a “May” sound the farther south I go. I’ll answer to either. What I don’t answer to is “Mee-gann.”

    I, too, attempted to go by my middle moniker during my freshman year of high school, but like you, I couldn’t get used to having to answer to a name that wasn’t my own.

    Perhaps next time you should bring up the topic of the spelling of our name. I’ve offended many people as a result of heated discussion about it. Fun times.


    • Oh, Megan — how right you are! I’m of the opinion that “Megan” is the best way to spell our name. But then again, I’m a wee bit biased…

      And “Mee-gann” makes me crazy, too!


  4. Well, however you choose to pronounce it (it is your name after all) I will be happy to think of you as British from this day forward!


  5. I’d pronounce it Megg – inn…

    I have a sister whose name is Jessie. I and the rest of the people call her Jeh – see.

    However, my mom calls her “Jyahh – see.” Strange. And my grandma calls her “Jay – see.”


Comments are closed.