This has been happening to me ever since I was a kid. Every new school year on the first day, it was the same thing. The teacher peered down at her list of new students to take attendance. She’d go down the line, calling out names like, “Colin? Joe? Elizabeth? Mary?” All of the kids raised their hands and said, “Present!” or “Here!” or “Moo!” if you’re a jokester. Then I’d hear, “Jessica?” The students, including myself, glanced about the room. “Jessica?” Still no answer.
And then…. “Jessica……(putting her glasses on to read the last name) Ren…Ren…Renya?”
First of all, that’s not even how you pronounce my last name. It’s not even how you spell it. Secondly, my name isn’t Jessica.
I could be botching this story entirely, but when I was a wee little thing still shoved in my mother’s belly, the doctor tried to determine whether or not I was a boy or a girl. The problem was, I moved around so damn much that he couldn’t get a good look. I was like a cheetah on cocaine. Or I just wanted to keep my privates private. Who knows. So, the doctor figured since I had so much energy, I was probably a boy.
So, that’s what my parents planned for. My dad really wanted to name me Jessie James. To their surprise, I showed up with not a penis, but my mom was too tired from all of the birth giving that she didn’t feel like changing my name. So she kept the Jessie part, and dropped the James, to my relief.
For years, I’ve tried to understand this weird phenomenon where people just change my name for me. It is clearly written out in black, printed ink, yet still, everyone who meets me calls me Jessica. Even when introducing myself, all friendly and happy, “Hi! My name is Jessie!” They reach out for my hand and say, “How are you, Jessica?”
Maybe some of you can try to explain this to me. Is it a politeness thing? It doesn’t ever seem to happen to anyone else. For instance, I rarely come across a situation where some girl is like, “Hey, I’m Lizzie!” and the other person says, “Hello, Elizabeth!” NEVER. Same thing with Will and William, or Charlie and Charles. So why must it happen with Jessie and Jessica? I’ve spent a good portion of my life correcting people who call me Jessica that I’ve just given up at this point. When I get irritated, my friends are like, “DUDE, just correct them!” You don’t even know. You. Don’t. Even. Know. I’ve accepted it now, even though every time I’m called Jessica, a piece of my soul dies away.
There definitely is a stereotypical response to my name. Now that I’ve gotten the “Jessica” bit out of the way, let’s jump to the part where everyone starts singing, “Jessie’s Girl” whenever I walk by. It has happened at every single job I’ve worked. “You know I wish that I had JESSIE’S Girl!” Yeah, yeah. I get it. I’m here to tell you that Jessie’s Girl is not my theme song.
I think The Ting Tings stole it from me.