the name game

how i became pamie

My name was almost Amanda.

That’s what my mother wanted to name me.  Amanda.  Well, maybe I would have been called Mandy.  I knew a few Amandas growing up, one of which got the horrible nickname “May-May.”  (I’ve lived in the deep south, as you can see).

My father was the one who decided I would be named “Pam.”  I think that was it.  Just “Pam.”  When my mother asked why not Amanda he replied, “Because it sounds like a refrigerator.”

“That’s Amana.”

But there was no further argument.

Once I found out that I was going to be named Amanda I became obsessed with that name.  I was six years old, naming all of my stuffed animals and dolls “Amanda.”  I’m pretty sure I was the only kid with a stuffed puppet moose named Amanda.  I thought it was such a pretty name.  I thought mine was so dull.  Pam.  How boring is that name?

My mother was in labor for thirty-six hours.  Thirty-six hours.  I’m going to say it again.  Thirty-six hours.  I could say it seven hundred more times and it still wouldn’t be as many times as I’ve heard my mother remind me.  Thirty-six hours.  Not thirty-five.  Not even a paltry thirty-four.  When I was making my official first entrance my father called my mother on the phone.  The nurses asked if she had anything to say.  She said, “Hold on,” gave one last push and said, “Tell him Pamie’s here.”

So, really, I was named Pamie.  With an “ie.”  That’s how my mother spelled it.

The nurse, however, must have thought, “That woman must have pushed some of her logic and reasoning out with that child.  She can’t get a professional career with a name like Pamie.  That sounds like a Muppet.”  On the birth certificate, the nurse wrote “Pamela.”

I’m very grateful for that.

Growing up, the only people who called me Pamie were my family, and my family’s close friends.  No one at my school knew that name.  I didn’t want the world calling me Pamie.  It sounded too familiar, too cute.  I had a big thing when I was a kid about not wanting to be cute.  I had my mother cut off all of my pipe curls that went down to my shoulders in an attempt to remove all cuteness from my body.  She did it, assuming that my hair would just grow back with even more curls.  I’ve never had another natural curl in my hair since.  I think my mother still stays up at night crying about that one.

But see, the nickname Pamie wasn’t enough for my family.  Nicknames beget nicknames, you know, so it wasn’t long before they were calling me Pamie Puss.  There’s a name you want your sixth grade friends to know.  Oh, the constant dates.  My little sister took great delight in exposing this family secret at opportune times.  “You can call her Pamie Puss if you want to!  That’s what we call her!”

My dance card emptied a bit.

Then, in college, as I grew friends who had never met my family, they started calling me Pamie.  The funny thing was, no one ever called me Pamie until they became a close friend.  I never told any of them to call me Pamie, and I certainly hadn’t told them about the Pamie Puss version.  When my mother came to visit, one of my friends said, “You’re Pamie’s Mom?  Nice to meet you!”

My mom turned to me with this beaming smile, “They call you Pamie?”

It was like she knew that I was doing okay.  She knew I had good friends.  They took care of me when she couldn’t.  They knew who I was.  When I told her that I had never told them to call me Pamie, they just started doing it, she said, “That’s because they love you.  Just like I do.”

It was particularly freaky when they spelled it correctly without me telling them.

And that’s when I realized that I was born a Pamie, and I will die a Pamie.  No matter what nurse tries to manipulate it, I was chosen a name by my mother when I was born, and that name has come up time and time again by people.  It’s rarely spelled that way, and I found it an easy nickname for being online.  Considering it’s meaning, I think she did a pretty good job:


Your name of Pamie gives you a strong sense of responsibility in business and material affairs, and the practicality and determination to make a success of anything you undertake. You are self-sufficient and capable, and have an interest in positions of leadership and responsibility. You are competent in directing the efforts of others, as you have good business judgment and the natural understanding of people. Very likely you have assumed much responsibility early in life and are oftenrequired to make major decisions. You appreciate settled, accumulative conditions, and a high standard of living. You have astrong, determined nature and tend to dominate others, and to interfere, at times, in your desire to be helpful. This name givesyou many good characteristics, but it is too strong, creating a materialistic nature and bringing out a forceful, demanding quality.
The heavy responsibility your name creates can result in a worrying, intense nature. It spoils the development and expression ofyour warmer, more feminine attributes. It causes tension and allied problems in the female organs.

Well, we’ll just ignore that last part.  I don’t know what they’re talking about.  My organs are fine.  Really.  Top notch.

My mom was very excited to hear that I own  She’s the biggest pamie fan there is.  When I look at myself now it’s easy to see what I got from my mother.  I have her feet.  I have her ability to laugh.  I have her desire to make people happy.  I have her willingness to put people that I love first in my life.  She’s the most selfless, most caring woman I know.  She’s strong.  She’s funny.  She’s smart.  I love my mommy.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

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