|Robot matryoshkas, via Perpetual Kid|
I changed my name almost as soon as I left home.
To do so, I twisted the name I was born with as far as it would go so that my new monicker would only bear the vaguest resemblance to what's written in my passport.
"And this is my daughter Ermintrude", Mother proudly says as she introduces me to her friends at the movies.
I freeze for a moment and only start thawing after two pairs of kisses have been planted on my cheeks.
The lady smiles at me, thrilled.
"Oh", she says, "you look just like you did as a kid".
Is this yet another person I am supposed to know but cannot remember?
She immediately senses my discomfort and explains that she saw pictures of little me at my mother's house.
"Ah, OK", I smile. "Look, please call me Minnie, everyone does", I tell her.
Mother shoots me a disapproving look.
"Whenever I hear Ermintrude, it's stronger than me, I just cringe", I say as lightheartedly as possible.
Visibly displeased, Mother shrugs while I stand my ground, smiling on the outside but hurting a little inside. If she can't bring herself to calling me Minnie, I wish she simply called me 'you' – that would at least be neutral.
Before I have had time to torture myself further, my new friend grabs me by the arm and we start making our way towards the theatre, to the sounds of 'Minnie this' and 'Minnie that'. Evidently, this lady is another curious soul and I warm up to her instantly.
"ER-MIN-TRUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUDE! ERMINTRUDE!!!", Mother would bellow when I was a kid. Soon, my name became synonymous with all matters of unpleasantness – I started hating it and feeling awkward whenever I was called, be it at home or at school. For a year or so before I left home, I toyed with variants, like Ermie and Trudie, but when my mother mockingly adopted them too, I gave them up.
I could have used one of my two middle names instead, but they are my grandmothers', neither of whom I ever particularly identified with.
"Who calls themselves after a giant cartoon MOUSE? Minnie, pfff, Minnie, what's THAT?", Mother has occasionally commented.
I don't think I'll ever find it in me to explain the whys and wherefores of being Minnie to her, but the fact that I also chose to keep my ex-husband's last name rather than revert to my maiden name when I got divorced back in 1998 should really have given her a clue.
"Mother, the truth is that I really don't wish to be associated with you or Planet Hex any longer. Plus, let's face it, Errmintrude Longforeignameski is way too many characters to handle in a job like mine", I have repeated in my head time and again over the years.
Professionally, I have always gone by Minnie and no one has ever questioned it. Whenever non-English speakers don't quite get my name, one mention of the Disney lady mouse and a giggly 'aha moment' inevitably follows. Over the years, Minnie has turned out to be quite a good icebreaker and it sure beats being named after a psychedelic cartoon cow any day.
Unfortunately – and unlike in more liberal countries – the laws of Planet Hex don't allow individuals to change their name by deed poll although some very rare exceptions are made in the case of some artists (tough luck here) so it looks like I'm stuck with the hatted pink bovine forever.
As for bloggy t'internetty Hannah, she is Minnie minus Ermintrude, free from the shackles of a past I only ever write about because it would be a shame to let all this material go to waste.
So please... call me Hannah or Hannah Joy - I don't think the Joy needs explaining now, does it?