“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.” – William Shakespeare
My given name is Fredine. According to names.org, “Fredine is the 65,144th most popular name of all time. From 1880 to 2019, the Social Security Administration has recorded 18 babies born with the first name Fredine in the United States.”
Just 18. It’s hard to choose a name for a pet, even harder to choose a name for a child. Will they be teased by their name or nickname? Will their initials spell something? Will their name help them to succeed or be a detriment in later life?
My mother wanted to name me Laura Ann. My paternal grandmother thought Annie Laurie had a nice ring to it. My maternal grandmother came up with Fredine. Supposedly it’s Norse in origin and means “peace” but my grandmother didn’t know that. We lived in the South and, as tradition, daughters were often named after their fathers.
My dad’s name was Fred Morris. He was born on New Year’s Eve 1927. His father had received a radio for Christmas and named my dad after a singer he had heard, Freddy Morris. As my brother Bill said, “good thing it wasn’t Slim Pickens, SLIM-INE.” The first day of school was always traumatic as teachers stumbled over those simple seven letters. Way too often it came out something like “free dine” as opposed to “fred een”. Finding personalized pencils or little license plates just wasn’t going to happen. Neither did monograms, since I didn’t have a middle name – what are you going to put with Fredine? When I was in college, there was a big, burly football player, Fred Dean, in one of my classes. Should the teacher call out our name, we would just look at each other, neither one of us answering, never quite sure who was expected to respond.
You can tell how long I have known someone by the name they call me. Childhood friends and my family call me Fredine, but those I have met in along the way call me Fredi, a nickname my dad always used, one that was much easier when I became a travel agent. Back in those pre-computer days, we had to call airlines and hotels to make reservations and the agents never understood when I would identify myself as Fredine. Even using Fredi was often a challenge! They heard Betty, Debbie, Heidi….
My favorite nicknames have been Mom and Grandmother. My youngest granddaughter is still struggling with that mouthful and is calling me MoMo.
Would I change my name? No. I have complained about it for years, said if I ever had a daughter I would give her a normal name, but I didn’t. Her name is Evan, named after my radio-listening grandfather.
Some traditions last.