“Hi, it’s nice to meet you. My name is…
She is polite, she is professional. She has never met you before, and probably won’t interact with you outside of formal setting, or ever again. If you are a co-worker, you are probably older than her and she wants you to take her seriously, so she uses her full name. If you are a stranger and will likely always be a stranger, there really is no other name to present you with. She thinks her name is beautiful and regal, much befitting Catherine the Great and the Lady Catherines of yesteryear. She is flabbergasted that so many Katies are secretly Katherine/Kathryn/Katharines when they could be, you know, what they are. She was named after her grandmothers—her first name is one grandma’s middle name, and her middle name is her other grandma’s first name.Thus, quite literally, Catherine Joanne was born. If her parents had swapped which grandma’s middle name got to be first and which first name got to be the middle name, her name would be Blanche Florence.
She is young, and she is eager for you to like her. She doesn’t feel particularly like this name fits her very well, but she has watched enough peers struggle over the three-syllable hump that is Cath-er-ine to know that short and sweet is more likely to stick in your memory, and she would like to stick in your memory, because as previously mentioned, she is on the hunt for friends. It is most likely the first day of something, like a missions trip or tryouts or college, and whether you never talk to her again or become her closest confidante, you will likely call her this for the next 1-20 years, despite the fact that she doesn’t like it very much. It will always remind her of that freshman feeling you get you’re new and eager to be liked, which is comforting because if you are still using it that means you like her and have continued to be friends with her and thus the initial goal was achieved. She will try to convince herself that this name is a good fit because Paul Simon once loved a woman named Cathy so now she has songs with her name in them (yes, indeed, she did walk down the aisle at her wedding to an acoustic version of Cathy’s Song, which is actually Kathy’s Song, but you’ll never get her to admit that).
She is core of this person before you. After all, you can’t have Catherine or Cathy without Cath. Her family has always called her this, and could never quite jive with the whole “Cathy” thing. In college she discovered the designs of Cath Kidston and the song “Cath…” by Death Cab for Cutie (this song, despite being about a wedding, was most certainly NOT featured at her nuptials). These have inspired her to more earnestly strive to use this as her primary moniker. Her husband always introduces her as this and it is terribly confusing for most people, because they are not up on British fashion designers or Ben Gibbard songs from 2008. They are apt to callously remove the h, but she can assure you she is not a feline, nor does she care for felines, and therefore does not want to watch a video of one doing purportedly hilarious things. Exactly two people have told her that they are uncomfortable calling her Cath because it reminds them of the word “catheter.” (They were both Canadians. She refuses to believe that is a coincidence, and might reconsider using this name in the future if she ever moves to Canada.) Despite these continual setbacks, she is learning that part of being an adult is forming a coherent identity, which includes getting to choose what people call you.
But deep down, I don’t think I could ever choose just one.
Hi, my name is Catherine/Cathy/Cath, and it is a pleasure to meet you.
Catherine Kramer (’14) has a degree in English and works in publishing. Her continued existence is made possible by grace, warm hugs, and iced chai lattes.