Monthly Archives: June 2012

How I Lost My Identity

My name is Heidi.

I think.

Depends on what source you are referencing. According to my birth certificate, my name is Heidi Latourette Wells. However, if you rely on what I have been called by those who know me, I’ve been dubbed with classy monikers ranging from Wooz to Pooh to Flipper. Proudly, I can boast of as many aliases as King Henry VIII had wives.

Before you judge me a victim of multiple personality disorder or speculate that I have criminal proclivities, let me introduce the source of all this confusion: my mother. As long as I can remember, the noble matron has insisted on labeling all creatures – be they her offspring or the spawn of a furry creature – with indecipherable, yet intriguing nicknames.

Apparently Amy was just too banal a name for her charming firstborn, so she become majestically known as ‘The Plomp’ (there is NO other reason for such a specific epithet). Heidi was too common a title for her second-born, and the elegant ‘Wooz’ more poignantly illuminated my scintillating spunk. I’ve never asked her the origins of my nickname; I am too afraid of what embarrassing incident or unflattering characteristic earned me the title to pry into the past. Continuing, Willy was Wilbur, Christina was Bean Dog, and Taylor was Tozz. Etymology experts worldwide through up their hands in puzzled surrender.

When she ran out of children, the pets were christened with even more cryptic names. Our remarkably normal cats were exotically titled Oosah, Saykah, and Mahkah. Don’t even try Googling those. Donning my Sherlock cap, the only trace of logic I can extract is they all end with ‘ah’. I muse in fascinated horror as to the state of excessive redundancy that would exist if my mom had been assigned Adam’s job of naming all animals.

So you see, I was destined to dodge normal names. Carrying my mother’s torch with the greatest of gusto, I doused my baby brother – a golden-haired angel who wooed the hearts of all – with indulgent names such as Chunky Chicken Chops, Tender Loins and Babe of Gold. I could start an unhealthy food line guaranteed to repel vegetarians and please cannibals based off my little brother’s nicknames. I think I have a gift.

I am now well beyond the age when the use of nicknames is endearing. But the Wooz in me just won’t acquiesce to commonplace names. Thus, I am richly blessed to work in an environment conducive to this inclination. Alex is Ding Dong, Katrina is Skull, Alisha is RunckDogg, I am Flipper, etc. RunckDogg and I once carried on a conversation in which we referenced five co-workers without ever using their given names. Never has workplace communication been so crystal clear.

In a day and age in which awareness of self & identity are esteemed above all else, you might pity me and my bulging list of contradicting identities. Please don’t. Rather, grieve for my future children!

Betsy Ross Was a Fraud

I’ve been a lot of places. England, Germany, France, Russia (more on this later), Italy, New York, Las Vegas, Krispie Kreme on a daily basis, etc. Among this impressive list stands most memorable an improbable place – Fabric Depot in Portland, OR. Cushioned in the heart of 122nd Ave (a wholesome goldmine of stripper clubs and car dealerships), the textile mecca is a thriving bee hive of artsy grandmas buzzing about on grand missions of fabric fondling, corduroy conquest and pattern picking.

busy bees

And then there was Joe and I. Bobbing from fabric bolt to fabric bolt, we slipped into a reverie of handmade scarves and blankets that would magically drape Joe in both craftsy adorableness AND masculinity.

Unfortunately, we were jolted from our daydream by the arrival of Elvis Presley’s daughter. I know. I thought the same thing. “What is a classy gal like the daughter of the King of Rock & Roll doing at dumpy little Fabric Depot in Portland?” Well, I was about to discover she was there to give us fashion advice, a corrected history lesson and insult me.

Upon proclaiming she was Elvis Presley’s daughter (which even I, the most illiterate of all when it comes to pop culture, knew was fallacious), she proudly announced the sewing machine used to craft the first American flag is in her home. Playing along, I patronizingly responded, “Oh, you mean Betsy Ross’s machine?” Stone-faced, she icily clarified, “No. Her name was Molly, she came from Canada, fought the British and Indians and won the war for us.” Everything I learned being home school was apparently a lie. Thanks, Mom (whose name is also Molly, interestingly enough). You made me look like an idiot in front of a really cool lady.

This history lesson had me chortling, but what came next shot through my heart like a bullet straight from Molly’s musket. Demonstrating an astounding clairvoyance, she informed me, “You have fake teeth.” Yes, I do have fake teeth – only three are real. But you can’t tell that unless I peel back my lips and point them out. Shocked, I applauded her intuition. Quickly, she followed up, “That means you’re not smart.” Ouch. Immediately after decimating me, she turned to Joe and slathered on compliments of how he is a strong Christian, how that green jacket looks good on him, blah blah barf barf. I might have fake teeth, but I have real feelings that can be hurt! Geez.

Swallowing my pride, I continued to attempt conversation with her. After she informed us that during her walk the other day through Portland she was suddenly transported to Russia, I commented, “Oh, I’ve been to Russia!” Once again, the frigid glare. “No, you haven’t.” “Ummmmmm pretty sure I did.” “No, you haven’t.” Well, darn it. Guess I wasted $1,400 on a plane ticket to Not-Russia.

And so it continued. Never had bolts of fabric been bathed with such insight. For example, I bet you didn’t know alien giants rule from above, and send exclusive messages to our dear lady to pass to us? Or that if you were born without teeth, all you have to do is visit the cemetery off Barnes Road, give them your name, and they will dig up those pearly whites for you?

Eventually, even her fount of wisdom ran dry. As we parted ways, Joe asked her name. Gripping her wheeled suitcase, she glided away, calling over her shoulder, “That is to remain unknown. If you don’t know it by now, you never will.” Oh, that’s right. She is psychic and probably knew our names without being told.

Until that joyous day when we cross paths again, she is christened Betsy Ross in our memories. Needless to say, Joe and I have not pursued sewing since. We’ve been too busy scouring the local cemeteries, looking for my teeth!

P.S. If you knew who Betsy Ross was without having to Google her, kudos to you! You were probably home schooled.