I was having a conversation yesterday that triggered a discussion about my name. As I have posted before, I did not take either of the career paths I had originally anticipated since I am neither a teacher nor a lawyer. However, along the way, I have rather inadvertently experienced several name changes, all of which were based on the circumstances of the time. Therefore, the same person who knew me as Beth Ruffin is at an early point in my life, and can easily be talking to someone who only knows me as Charlie Hudson. I suppose in the strictest sense, I am Charlotte Elizabeth Ruffin Kimball Hudson.
I was never called Charlotte growing up, but rather Beth. By the way, that did cause some akwardness the year I lived in France. There is no “th” sound in French, only “t”, ergo, “Bete” was what they heard. For those French speakers, you know that the two translations of “bete” are beast and stupid. You can see why it was confusing and “Elisabet” was better for them.
Okay, back to the transition. Although first names are officailly used in the Army, it is not uncommon to use last names in casual conversation and derive nicknames from that. It wasn’t long before I became known as “Ruff” for Ruffin. There was the added humor of that being during the years when women were just entering many traditional “male fields” and the chance to call a female who ticked in at under five feet tall, “Ruff” was irresitable. During my first assignment, with men still not being accustomed to women filling what had previously been male roles, “Charlie” came about from Charlotte. “Charlie” stuck and of course the last names are successive from maiden to second marriage. My initial published articles were professional in nature under Charlotte and I don’t actually recall why I decided to use Charlie when I launched into book length works.
Now, there was a gentleman that I knew once who liked to call me Becky, one I worked with who for some reason referred to me as Polly, and my brother-in-law who still calls me Bertha as an inside family joke. So that’s the progression of names – all of whom I answer to depending on the individual I am conversing with.