Thursday, May 19, 2011

Fight for the Title

I’m going to stray once again from the well worn, paw printed paths and delve into something also quite close to my heart. My name. I get asked a lot, and I do mean a lot, about my moniker. Where it came from, how my parents thought of it, whether it was a family name, whether it is my real name. Let it be known; Tamzin is my real and actual name. The name Tamzin, in its various spellings, is an Old English name, generally accepted to be from the Middle Ages, and can trace its origin to Cornwall, England. It is a variation on the name Thomasina which is obviously the feminine of Thomas. My mother read the name in a British children’s book called Wish for a Pony (from 1947 - the first book of the Romney Marsh children’s series by Monica Edwards ) and always remembered it. It is the only book in which I have ever read my name, correct spelling and all, as a character – one who loves horses no less! Anyway, as the story goes my mom intended to name a daughter, if she had one, Tamzin or Clarissa (since she was Tamzin’s best friend in the series). So, here I am.

I have a love/hate relationship with Tamzin; I am unfailingly and universally complimented on this personal attribute but it is one of the only things about me for which I can take absolutely no credit at all. I did not choose my name and so when I get complimented on it I am, and forever will be, at a loss as to what to say. Reactions to my name can vary from curious puzzlement to blank silence to outright delight and exclamation. It can be a little awkward since some people are strangely effusive about how much they like the name.

Thanking someone for telling me how much they like my name seems a little ego-maniacal so my go-to reply is “Thank you. I spell it a lot.” I tread carefully around “Why thank you, it is a nice name isn’t it?” since I have no idea how nice a name it might or might not be. I have always had it, heard it and known it. There has never been a time in my life when I did not know the name Tamzin existed. I hear other nice names and think “Is this then, what people think when they hear my name?” I will never know. I simply presume that it’s appealing in some way I cannot discern and accept that although the person complimenting it might think that it’s a great name, in 10 minutes not only will they be very unlikely to be able to pronounce it correctly, they almost certainly will not be able to remember it at all. As for spelling, well, that gets its own paragraph.

I spell it a lot; lather – rinse - repeat. I have of course been asked for my name in various situations to which I reply, “Tamzin. T-a-m-z-i-n.” Sometimes I am then asked “And your first name?” so thus my inward sigh being barely concealed I reply “That *is* my first name.” Many years ago I had a job where I would receive faxes a lot. I started keeping a collection of the names that people thought I had and it was quite impressive. I still have it in fact: Tamzen, Tamzim, Tazin, Tamzan, Jamzin, Tansen, Jasmine, Tamzn, Tamson, Janzen, Tamzon, Tamden, Pamzen, Tamara, Tamzyn, Tazmen, Townsend, Tamsyn, Tazmie, Tanzin, Tamrin, Tam, Tamazin, Tamzden, Tazmin, Tanzen and my two personal favorites: Tamilla and Copy Writer. I also have one that was spelt correctly but then corrected to change the ‘m’ in the middle to ‘n’. Go figure. Heaven preserve me from spell check because the word Tamzin is most often corrected to ‘tampon’ – lucky me. I have no idea what iPhone auto-correct does to my name but I’d rather not find out.

I also have people mis-hear my name, or at least substitute what they think is the correct name. I get Katherine, Hanson, and Townsend regularly but usually Jasmine is the go-to guess. Tasmin is a close second. Whenever someone is reading from a list I can always tell when they get to my name because there is a pause and usually a failed attempt to get two simple syllables to make the correct sounds. I can probably count on one hand the number of times someone has gotten my name right the first time.

My name does not appear on pens or notepads or those cute little license plate key tags. I’ll never forget seeing a book on the bargain table at Chapters, I had to buy it instantly, it was $2 and the title was Tamsin Hart. Yes, the first name was not quite right and the last name was not yet my last name (it is my Mother’s maiden name) but I just had to have it. Who knows what it was about – I still haven’t read it, it’s in my parent’s library!

There are now a couple young actresses in England(The Tudors & Camelot) with my name and I think it’s becoming a little more popular although I don’t think it will ever catch on as a common name. There is another person in the world with my name “Tamzin Hart” and imagine my confusion when she found me on Facebook! Why would I send a friend request to myself? But no, Tamzin lives in England (go figure) and was just curious if anyone else on Facebook had the same name. I did end up friending her and occasionally she will comment on something I post and my confusion resurfaces until I remember there are two of us in the world.

The other day someone (Thanks Kate!) came across a list of top ten cool and uncommon names and was compelled, for a couple reasons, to photograph it and send it to me.

There I am on the left in the corner – not everyone can have a ‘z’ you know. One of the other names was Lilou – go on, say it out loud -Leeloo (which *is* the correct spelling of the character in The Fifth Element). I also noticed that on the boy’s side, for cool and uncommon names, was the name Hart. Yes people, yes. I am cool and uncommon on both sides of the coin.

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