Sunday, October 17, 2004

The name's Carmi, with an i

With a name like Carmi, I was destined to spend a lifetime explaining the origins of my moniker. I was also destined to have more nicknames than most people I know.

For the record, Carmi is a contraction of two Hebrew words:
Kerem, which means vineyard; and
Sheli, which means mine.

Hebrew lets you scrunch words like this together to form Carmi...which means "my vineyard" (such a surprise!) In its original language, the second syllable is stressed. In the anglo-centric world in which I live, the first syllable kinda rules. Carmi, like Army.

This is my full name, as it appears on my birth certificate. It is not short for anything.

There are very few terms of endearment for a name that already seems like a nickname. The single-syllable "Carm" is likely the most common. I can count on one hand the number of people who call me Carm. They're all direct relatives, and only ones I really, really like. One's my wife.

In my past lives, individuals have popped up here and there who feel an instant familiarity with me. Why they feel this way I do not know. I'm a pretty friendly person who always seems to find the good in people - even if they really don't deserve it and others would have written them off long ago. But some folks I just can't get to like. I'll tolerate 'em for the purpose of getting the job done. But beyond idle chitchat, I have little desire to spend any kind of quality time with them.

Right about now, you're all likely thinking that I'm a terrible person. Please don't think ill of me. The only folks who fall into what I like to call the Go Away category are the really self-centred, odious ones who we all wish would simply walk off the edge of the planet. In other words, you have to really suck as a human being to fall into my wish-you-weren't-in-front-of-me gang. Trust me, you would hate them too.

There's also a more pragmatic reason: the less time I spend yakking with airheads leaves me more time to hang with the people who matter; namely a woman who staggeringly wishes to spend her life with me, and the three little people we've created and are trying to raise into well-adjusted, bigger people.

So, to bring my circuitious ramblings back to where they began, I noticed a number of Go Away people over the years have assumed they can call me Carm. I have always wanted to open my mouth and say they simply don't deserve to call me by that name. In my head, while they're blathering away, the voices scream at me that I should put these losers in their place.

But I don't. I say nothing. I continue to smile and nod my head while they relate another story about their son's hockey stats or the sad and never-ending story of how they negotiated the lease on their SUV. They think I'm their buddy. I waste my time letting them continue the charade. It keeps everyone happy, so there's no sense rocking the boat.

For now. Now that I write for a living, I won't stop myself from skewering their personalities in some future work. Some people - no matter what they call me - are just too caricature-like to be ignored.

As long as they remember to include the i at the end of my name, that is.


Oz said...

Don't get me started on names. Some people try to call me OH-zzilyn as opposed to OZ-zilyn. Up until I was about 20, I used to relentlessly correct people. Sometimes, I would correct them and say, "It's OZ-zilyn." Reponse: "That's what I said, 'OH-zzilyn." Me: "No, you're saying OH-zzilyn, and it should be OZ-zilyn." Response: "It's the same thing." HUH?Then a friend of mine came up with a great come back to that. He suggested that I say, "Okay, I'm going to call you Asshole. John, Asshole, it's the same thing."

Of course, I never did that, and as I've gotten older, I've let me guard down a bit. If I am only going to be around someone for, let's say, one day (like I meet them at a wedding and I'll never see them again), I don't bother with the correction. But anyone who will be in my life for any amount of time is told politely on their second or third offense, "This is how you pronounce me name, and it's important that you pronounce it the right way." Most of the time, people simply apologize and do their best in the future.

Rachel - Wicked Ink said...

::shudders:: my first name, is Melanie. And my parents started the process of ensuring it would never be shortened, which I have carried through out my life. It is more than irritating to have people call me Mel, and then wonder why I don't like it. It doesn't matter.

Simply address people, as they have introduced themselves to you. I know more than a few Chris's, Betty's and Jan's whose long names (if they have a long name) is not Christine or Christopher, Elizabeth or Janice.

However, it doesn't bother me to have Rachel shortened or changed - Rachie - Rachmel, Ratchle, whatever. But please don't change Melanie.

BTW - I thought your name was pronounced with a long I. Carm-EYE. So, now I know. TY :-)

twenty something said...

Not sure if you read my post about my name, but it's Dana pronounced Donna. That's right, the Israeli way. Now if only my name had a good meaning to it like yours...

carmilevy said...

Hi Dana. Coincidentally, I had not read your name-based post before writing my own. Thanks to your comment, I've now done just that. It's the price we pay for uniqueness, I guess: it helps your blog stand out from the crowd (that and that fact that you can write well!)

Anonymous said...

People are always using the popular nickname version of Hub's name. He HATES that, but they do it anyway. I've tried to correct my family, he corrects people. They just don't think. I have a new name for them: inconsiderate. :)

Jenny said...

As a Jennifer who has NEVER gone by Jennifer (always Jenny or Jen or some variant) I've always been careful pay attention to how people name themselves, because while I prefer Jenny etc (Jennifer is too formal for me, like using urinate when you have to pee, hah!) I've known plenty of Jennifers, Andrews, Joshuas, Roberts etc who do not want to be called by a nickname.

Janet said...

So I just read yours and Prima Dana Donna's entries back to back. Now I feel inspired to write about the not so thrilling origin of my name.

Leanne said...

I too share your pain of the, 'change your name to something I prefer' game. I can't count how many times my name has been shortened to Lee a few variations like Luann and Lean! All of which erk me by the way, but not nearly as much as Leann-a! I truley believe however that this is an irritating affliction that we are all subjected to at least once or twice in our lives if we are fortunate enough to have more than one syllable in our name. Go multiple! How exciting to be more than a J or a K or even a B :o)

Dean said...

My given name is Dean. It's impossible to shorten it, at least convincingly. What I get is 'Deano', or perhaps it is 'Dino'. I think I prefer the latter.

Gonzo said...

Yeah, Hebrew can be challenging. I'm just glad that my Hebrew name - Chaim Yakov ben Benyamin - is only used in shul. Can you imagine the 'splainin' I'd need to do about that whopper?

Stephane Tardif said...

I get a few problems with my name too! I bet that 8 out of 10 think I'm a female Gender. Read my name again and you should notice that there is no "i" like in the female name Stephanie. My name should have the accent St├ęphane but is screws up a few browsers. My name is pronounced "Stay"-"fan".

Nortnat said...

It sounds like there are a lot of folks who can relate to the name thing based on the number of comments posted.

I have to admit that this is the first time I have ever posted a response to a blog, however I had sudden need to add my two cents.

I can certainly relate to what you have written here. I also have a name that people like to shorten.
I was thinking about how I respond when certain folks address me by the shortened version of my name, and I realized what I tend to do is emphasize my full name to those I don't think have earned the privilege of calling me the shortened version.
For those who have earned this privilege, I usually just respond.

Danya said...

Carm? Hmmm...I don't think I ever thought of calling you that. I get Donna a lot. Usually I don't argue since most of the people I talk to during the course of the day couldn't care less what your name is anyway.

The SUV blatherers you speak of sound eerily familiar, like a nightmare you once had that comes back to haunt you during lunch and ruining your appetite. At least you didn't mention that you didn't like the bitter, disenchanted people like me! Although I have noticed that you nod and smile during some of our conversations.;)

Dak-Ind said...

i am so far behind on this but you linked to it recently and here i am... commenting like its yesterday.

My oldest son Dakota went through something similar with his name. His father was ADAMENT that no one call him cody (wince that seemed to be what teachers wanted to shorten his name to)... if we wanted to name him cody we would have. We allow Koda (pronounced like co-duh), in fact most non family folks call him that. I started calling him Duck about two years ago. He likes it a lot. He even uses as his blog alias Duckota. weird how nicknames happen.

Anonymous said...

Hi I know this is an old post but im catching up on your blog...its so nice to read your thoughts again iv missed it;-)
I come from a family with weird and wonderful names my sister is Gessica whos friends call her Gstring...the other sister is Andrea and she calls herself AV (our surname is Van der Walt)My Husband spend his days trying to ignore the people who miss say his name Lime lame and leon being the most often his name is Liam as in wiliam only the end. HIs brother is Q dog or doctor Q but actualy Quin. my brother is also called ducky by all his friends but is Darron emphasis on the o but everyone prounounces that darren. Nobody excet my imediat family can say my real name properly so i havelearnt to just answer the plathora of names. My son is Gabriel he is two and calls himself babriel, he cant say his sisters name so he calls her Nika (its Domanique) and since i hate the name nicky and Dom Nika is a wonderful comparmise!!
i guess only people who have names misprounced are particular about not mispronouncing others names and checking what you can and cant call another personthe rest are just inconsiderate. I have however never thought of calling you anything except for Carmi..just goes to show;-)

Eleonora Baldwin said...

On the topic of nicknames or name distortion... hello, Eleonora here. An Italian vowel-fest.

Thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving your kind comment.

The explanation of the meaning and pronounciation of your beautiful name. My vineyard. I love it.


Chibi Janine said...

An intresting read on your name. I'm not one for getting to fussed about people shortening my name ect though I only pulled a name stunt once. I was in biology class once and the teacher was going Joanne close the door Joanne, Joanne, Joanne close that door now. Now my name is Janine and I had been in that class for a good term and for my credit it took me a while to realise she was talking to me and by the time I realised that she was getting very rude in her insistance that I close the door so I ignored her (Bad I know but she was being very rude don't think please entered the statment memory fuzzy though) well any way She eventually in an angry exhasberated voice went Joanne don't you even know your own name, Gosh these moment are to treasure I slowly raised my head looked at her and very carmly went Yes I do know my own name and Its Janine would you like me to close the door for you. Her respose was a oh and a rather meek yes please.
I shouldn't like that feeling but it is kind of nice to pull the rug out from self assured (nothing wrong with that but when coupled with rudeness and power trips they give unpleasent people) rude people.