Sunday, January 13, 2013

Stop wielding my name like that

I've been Googling around, trying to figure out whether:

- using a person's name is a known act of passive aggression
- or maybe I'm just oversensitive.

When I was little, my mom and dad never called me by my first name unless I was in trouble. It's worth noting that I rarely got in trouble, but I was always called "Poodle" or "Boo," until I, say, forgot to pull the shower curtain inside the bath tub when I showered, and my dad would discover the flooded bathroom and bellow my first name through the house in a terrifying tenor.

"Hey, sweetie," meant that dinner was ready, or that maybe cookies were done cooling and ready to eat. But when my first name echoed through our home, I knew I had done something wrong.

Years later, when I started dating, my boyfriends and I never called each other by our first names...unless we were fighting. One man knew I was upset with him when I addressed him by name instead of the sweet nickname that usually bounced off my tongue. The last man I dated called me things like "Baby" or "Cupcake" until our relationship ended in a series of mean-spirited emails, in which he explained to me, using my first name, comma, just how absurd I was being. I knew he was using my name to convey his condescension via the written word.

My best friend Madge says my name, but always adds a sweet suffix or substitutes the word "Munkin," (which she once blurted out, hilariously and accidentally, when she was thinking of both "Monkey" and "Pumpkin"). I don't say her name, either, unless I'm addressing her as "My Madge" or "Hey Madgey."

Then there was the especially passive aggressive woman I worked with who always overused my first name. I'd get emails from her that read something like: "Just wondering if you had time to finish that report, YOU, since I haven't seen it yet. Did I miss an email, YOU? Let me know as I'm still waiting for it. Thanks, YOU." It was enough to make my own name read like an accusation.

I've even noticed it when I communicate. As a manager, I try to use people's names when I'm praising them, not correcting them. I'll say "Great job, Ted!" but not "This is full of typos, Ted."

But...I've been Googling around and I can't find any evidence that lots of other people feel like someone can wield your first name in an act of aggression. (This person does call it a "douchey business tactic.") Maybe I just need to find someone who whispers my name like a sweet nothing.

If you've ever winced at the sound of your own name, let me know.


In other news, these are a few of my favorite things today:

My new couch, which I bought for myself on impulse. I like this picture of it, because it looks like it was just delivered and moved in by a helpful cat.

Knee socks. I wan't quite sure how to pull an outfit together with them, because when you Google-image search "knee socks" what you mostly get is girls wearing knee socks and underpants. That was not helpful as I dressed to go to Trader Joe's with my mom. But I think they looked okay today.

Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon, which is a selection of personal reflections, regrets, discoveries and memories. This is a great book for a Michael Chabon fan to have around when you're feeling a little uneasy, because it's got all of the dazzling turns of phrase you can expect from Michael Chabon, but in light, heartfelt, easy-to-read and bite-sized bits. 

I was going to take a photo of the book for you but it is apparently lost in the folds of my bed (along with the following: iPad, iPhone, Lucky magazine, necklace that was strangling me, hairclip, laptop sleeve, shoebox, teddy bear, and life-sized stuffed dog--which is embarrassing), so all I could find was its discarded dust jacket on my night stand. 

Happy Sunday!

1 comment:

  1. i only call you munkin because that is your name! :)

    and i definitely want to see the rest of the knee socks outfit! those are so pretty! and they remind me that i have a pair of knee socks that i have been meaning to give you for ages.

    anyway haii <3

    i hope no one ever wields your beautiful name passivelyagressively ever again.