“Why, for example, do the great writers use anticipation instead of surprise? Because surprise is merely an...
I just finished up another year at San Diego Comic Con. Sales were fine, and I met plenty of fans, but...
So Kourtney Kardashian gave birth to a little girl, and they hath dubbed the girl child Penelope Scotland. Let’s ignore the middle name, as celebrities have been naming their progeny after countries and land masses for years, and focus on that first one. It’s MY first name. (And congratulations to them, because new baby smell! Yay. And blood clots, and post-partum hair loss, and constipation. Good fun.)
Tina Fey had a girl last year, and also named her Penelope. Like any two VERY different celebrities, Tina Fey (who I LOVE) and Kourtney Kardashian (who I kinda like; my favorite is Khloe. Don’t judge me for having a favorite.) have the power to either make people love them or hate them intensely. And, of course, have the power to impact the world. Tina Fey inadvertently swung a presidential election and Kourtney, along with her family, is systematically destroying the letter C. There will probably be an uptick in the amount of little baby girls to be named Penelope. I don’t know how I feel about this.
When I was younger, I HATED my name. I got teased for it constantly. I wasn’t sure it suited me, because every girl I saw on TV with the same name as me was a cute red-haired freckled white girl, which I was not.
“Penny? That’s your name?”
“Can I call you Quarter? I’ll call you Nickel.”
“What’s it short for?”
“I don’t know anyone with that name.”
“Uh, Penelope Ann Miller. From Kindergarten Cop.”
It was all this kind of stuff my whole life. For a time I insisted upon being addressed by my middle name (Dawn). That failed. (Everything failed when I was 12.) When I was fifteen, in a fit of “rebellion” and “self-discovery”, I was going to change everything about myself. Hair, clothes, everything. I only succeeded in changing the spelling of my nickname. And not even everyone uses it. (I prefer how “Pennie” looks anyway. And you wouldn’t believe how many times it’s been misspelled.) At my first job, which was at a McDonald’s, my first check was made out to “Penelope Cruz.” My idiot manager, who had my SOCIAL SECURITY CARD ON FILE, was genuinely shocked that my last name was not Cruz. I had to cash my checks out of the register for the better part of two months. So Penelope Cruz can suck it. (By the way, I am the namesake of my mother’s long lost dog. So it’s not like the origin of my name is sweet or noble, as if I was named after a grandmother or the first woman in the Cabinet. I’m named after a fucking DOG.)
I’ve since made peace with my name. It’s not so bad that I wanted to change it when I turned 18. It’s just part of me, I guess. I also think it’s sufficiently nerdy to go along with my nerdy personality. I sort of imagine that Penelope is a female equivalent to a name like Eugene; I can’t help but picture Eugene from Grease when I think of it.
See what I mean?
So I don’t really know how I feel about the sea of Penelopes that will probably follow this celebrity baby-naming trend. (When it happens more than once, it becomes a trend in Hollywood, right? And speaking of Hollywood, my father’s last name is Wood, and he joked about naming me Holly. And I don’t even HAVE my father’s last name. Yep, my parents are first-rate indeed.) I’ve learned to like its originality and uniqueness. I have only met one other person my whole life with my name, and she’s a little kid, so it’s not like there was a girl in the other fifth grade class named Penelope, or not even a girl in the other fifth grade class who had a cousin in the Dominican Republic who had a baby named Penelope. That’s how anomalous the name has been for me. Does this mean, when I’m forty or so and my kids are teenagers, there will be a handful of kids in their school named Penelope, and something about myself that I once thought was awful and then special will be just…nothing at all?
No, it’s more likely that I’ll spend a bunch of times at PTA meetings and birthday parties being asked stupid questions about my name, and complaining to my husband about them in the car on the way home. Because that’s how most things end up. If you knew how much I whined to my husband, you’d kick me in the vagina.