July 10, 2011

Life as a Robbie Part II

I survived middle school as a Robbie partially-scathed. But most importantly, I left with the same name as when I began, and I never wore socks with sandals (after seventh grade). Upon beginning high school, I briefly thought of attempting the name change, but this time I knew Ryan or Dion just were not options. At 15 years old, I knew my only choices would be Rob or Robert. But both seemed too mature and/or boring, so Robbie it was. It had fit me that long and it still did. Who wants to act like an adult as a teenager anyway?

I was adamant about owning myself as a Robbie in high school. I cringed on the first day of classes when the teacher would have Robert on the class list. I corrected them to my preference quickly and awkwardly, hoping no one in my school would ever learn my common birth name. I was even able to convince many that Robbie was my birth name, including the Colorado DMV. I don't know how I got away with having an alias on my driver's license for years, but it was surprisingly easy. Thankfully my next move was to Montana where the DMV shares a parking lot with the local Wendy's. Coming down off a Frosty buzz, the woman gave me no trouble changing my name to something legal on my ID.

As a child, I imagined someone would force me to go by Rob or Robert at a certain age. As an adult, I'm thankful this person doesn't exist. But as an adult a new set of challenges comes with a name. I have to meet far more people than I did as a kid and I have to identify myself to anyone who doesn't know me already. While a fake name works at dive bars and the Colorado DMV, I typically have identify myself as Robbie.

Robbie is a pretty simple name to understand in my mind, but I've probably heard it more often than people who don't share my name. Those two syllables do challenge some people. And I bet Ryans don't face these challenges.

When I introduce myself, too many people respond with "Robin?" or "Ronnie?" No. One time I checked into a hair salon and the woman starting asking for "Rock" a few minutes later. Also not me.

Starbucks is a great place for confusion, and asking for a first name on the cup adds to it. My favorite Starbucks experience as a Robbie:

Starbucks: "What's the name on this drink?"
Me: "Robbie."
She wrote my name on the cup. I gave her my credit card. She looked at it (which was the first and last time this happened). She gazed back at me.
Starbucks: "Your credit card says, 'Robert.'"
Me: "Yes."
I gave her a blanker stare than her own.
Starbucks: "But you said your name is Robbie."
My stare grew blanker. Keep in mind I was also hungover.
Me: "Yes."
Starbucks: "But the name on your credit card is Robert."
Without any proper words to tell the lady, I just lowered my gaze slightly and didn't blink until she swiped my card.

Five minutes later, my drink was ready.

"Grande mocha for Robin."

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