My name is Elsie. I’ll spell it for you – E L S I E. 5 simple letters. So why is it that so many people get it wrong? I spell it for them all the time, only to have them still call me ELISE, and misspell it – Elyse, Elsi, L.C., Elise… you get the idea. I always try to be subtle in my corrections – “um, it’s is actually Elsie, not Elise”, and they will apologize and then mispronounce it again. Who are the “they” – just about everyone – Doctors, their nurses, people in retail stores (usually when I am cashing out and they have my credit card right in their hand with my name spelled out correctly), and most of the people that meet me. I say it correctly, and they repeat it incorrectly. Even Starbucks can’t get it right.
My last drivers license had my name misspelled due to a slip of fingers on the part of the DMV. So when I renewed my license, I politely asked if they could correct it. Oh no, now that it is spelled incorrectly, they can’t make the correction unless I bring in my birth certificate. Which of course, perpetuates that myth that my name is Elise, because everyone knows that the name on your driver’s license is correct. And it creates problems for me if someone wants to see both my driver’s license and my credit card at the same time, because they aren’t the same. Of course, my credit cards are correct, because I make sure I spell my name correctly and the card comes out with the name that I provide. But it has led to a lot of frustrating conversations that I didn’t want to have, with people that I don’t feel like explaining it to.
I was named for my paternal grandmother – Elsie T. Lawrence Shubert. No doubt in her childhood, Elsie’s abounded. That was not the case when I was a child. And it was against the wishes of my mother, but it seems that my father had already told his mother that I would be named for her, and we know how that goes. In my classes, there were multiple Debbies, Lindas, and Pattys. My name made me a target, because at that time Borden’s Dairy had a cow for a mascot.. named Elsie… so I became “Elsie the cow” in the way that only kids can be cruel. I hated it. Later, when I hit high school, I wished that my name was something more exotic, like Elza (the lioness), but no, I was Elsie and the teachers called me Elise too. As I became an adult, I liked it better because in my career, I became on of those singular name people, since there just aren’t a lot of Elsie’s hanging about, and especially not under the age of 80 or so.
Sometimes I think I should just legally change my name to Elise and be done with it. Much easier than constantly correcting people, knowing that they will just mess up again. I do answer to both names and in recent years, I sometimes don’t bother to correct them. It’s really their problem, not mine. I know who I am. But then I will call somewhere to make an appointment and I’m back to “E-L-S-I-E”, knowing that by the time I get there, it will be Elise. Hope dies slowly.
Until next time, Elsie, “E-L-S-I-E”