My Awesomely Random Life (and Everything in Between)

Name Dropping

The name’s Hansen. Wendi Hansen. And I like my chocolate milk shaken, not stirred.

A name. Title. Proper noun.

It identifies you, defines you, and characterizes you. Your name lets people know who you are and where you came from. It is ageless. It doesn’t have to worry about bad hair days or cellulite or whether or not it has spinach in its teeth. It can be short and sweet like ‘Madonna’ or ‘Cher’, a simple way to make a bold statement. It can also be quite long and meaningful, reading like a story, a memory, a piece of history. Just look at this name: ‘Adolph Blaine Charles David Earl Frederick Jack Gerald Hubert Irvin John Kenneth  Lloyd Martin Nero Oliver Paul Quincy Randolph Sherman Thomas Uncas Victor  William Xerxes Yancy Zeus Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorft Senior’. This fella is the Guinness Book World record holder for the longest name in the world, and well deserved I might add, although I don’t think I envy this man one bit–Wowzas! I mean, can you imagine trying to fit that on the back of your softball jersey?!

I think you can tell a lot about a person by their name and vice-versa. You know how some people think that over time, people tend to resemble their pets or the significant others? Well I think the same thing goes with a person’s name. After a while, you give your name a distinct personality, unique and significant traits and characteristics that make you, you. A great way this can be seen is with very unique and sometimes out-of-the-ballpark names. Case and point: The most recent celebrity trend of giving their tot’s names like Apple, Suri, Coco and Maddox. Or remember when George Costanza wanted to call dibbs on naming his first-born Soda (gotta love him)? Out of the box? Most definitely. A little strange and out of the ordinary? You betcha. Something that this kid is going to probably look at their parents in five years and say, “What were you thinking? Apple?! Seriously?” : It’s a good bet, but, more power to them. Like I said, either you can let a name can make you or you can make your name. I say that these kids should take their crazy names and run with them, own them.

Another example of this is by how a person spells and pronounces their name. By taking a somewhat common name and making a little tweak, giving it a little somethin’-somethin’ different makes you stand out from the rest of your shared-name cohorts. I used to think that my ‘Wendi’ with an ‘i’ was kind of annoying; not a teacher or boss or fellow student would ever spell it right, leaving me to give the same ‘it’s with an i’ speech, time and time again. As I got older however, I grew to love the different way my name was spelled. I took pride in the fact that I wasn’t like all the other Wendy’s of the world–yeah Mrs. Peter Pan and maker of fine hamburgers and frosty’s, I’m talking to you.

You name may also have a special meaning or definition, if you will. For example, the name Wendi comes from both Slavic and English roots and means ‘wanderer’ or ‘friend’. Pretty much right on, I think. For funnsies, check out the hidden meaning behind your name and see if it accurately portrays who you are.

Besides our given birth names, we are often awarded nicknames. These nicknames often reveal more about us than our real names do and hold a special significance, more often because they involved some crazy story, a funny thing that was said and/or done. My name is Wendi Jo, but I am otherwise known as:

1. Wendall- This name dates way back to fifth grade. We were in art class and I was sitting next to Billy Beckman. The details are a bit fuzzy on how the name came to fruition, but I know it involved a Mr. Thinker statue, some crepe paper and a bottle of glue. From hence forth, my classmates started calling me Wendall. To this day, oh so many years later, my best friends and even my family still call me by the funky name (thank you Billy B!). Funny side note: My dad works with a guy named Wendall and every time I hear the name, it makes me giggle.

2. Newt-Most of you are probably wondering why on earth I would be called by the gecko-like creature’s name (and no, it’s not because I resemble the amphibian, although it can come close most mornings). No, this name stems from a very blonde moment that I had when I was about 12 years old. My cousin Nick and I were watching an intense match up between the Colorado Avalanche and the Detroit Red Wings. I really never had taken too big of an interest in the game of hockey before and was kind of newbie to the sport. I didn’t quite know all of the rules, the teams or the players but was gaining more and more interest by the minute. It really was a lot of fun to watch, so fast-paced and exciting. Wanting to know more about who we were watching, I started asking questions about the two teams, one such question being, “Oh…is this the team that Wayne Newton plays for?” Yupp. I went there folks. Wayne Newton. As in Las Vegas Wayne Newton. As in ‘Danke Shoen’ Wayne Newton. Clearly I had meant to say Wayne Gretzky (who was quite literally the only hockey player I knew of at the time) but had a major name faux pas. I had never seen my cousin laugh as hard as he did right then; he was actually tearing up due to my hockey oops and he has never let me live it down. Hence the nickname, Newt.

3.  Wendi Jo Hansen, Labrador Road- When I was five, I lived on a street called Labrador Road. Maybe it was my parents trying to get me to remember where I lived in case I got lost, but in memorizing the local of our house, I seemed to forge the address to my name. The two became one in the same to me. Whenever someone would call on the phone, I would pick up and say, “Wendi Jo Hansen, Labrador Road.” Whenever someone would ask what my name was, I would answer by saying, “Wendi Jo Hansen, Labrador Road.” My dad’s best friend Brian was really the first person to pick up on the usage of my new name and was really the only person who refered to me that way (my parents and the rest of my family thought I was silly–which I tote’e magoats was of course but hey, I never forgot where I lived now did I–and didn’t really pay any attention). Today whenever Brian sees or talks to me, the first thing he says is, “Wendi Jo Hansen, Labrador Road…how are you sweety?”

4. Heidi-This isn’t so much of a nickname as it is a name mix up. For some reason, dating back all the way to the age when I still got up early for saturday morning cartoons (and no, last Saturday doesn’t count here), people have called me Heidi. Not because of a nickname, but because they genuinely thought my name was Heidi. Teachers, professors, bosses, my pastor, and even the students who I tutored called me by the name. It really makes me go ‘hmm’ as to why they did so. Of course they learned eventually to refer to me as Wendi, but on occasion, they had a ‘Heidi slip up’ (and it still happens today with people I meet…craziness I tell ya!). Here are two possible reasons that I think might be behind my mistaken identity:

1. Maybe the sound of my first name, combined with the beginning letter of my last name leads people to form the name Heidi unconsciously in their minds.


2. There’s always the slight chance that people think I resemble this chica (blonde hair, blue eyes, pig tails…I just don’t see it):

Or this train-wreck, I mean gal (I sure hope not):

But it’s most probably because I am practically this lady’s twin sista from anotha mista (yupp, that’s gotta be it):

The whole concept of names and nicknames seems so trivial and mundane, something we use almost all of the time yet never pay any real attention to. The truth is, they really are kind of fun to learn about and are quite fascinating when you get down to the nitty-gritty of things. The next time you’re sitting a work twiddling you thumbs or get a hankering to do something fun, check out the meaning behind your name, maybe ask your parents the history of it and why they decided to name you what they did. But please, I urge you, do not name your next son or daughter Soda…because I so call shotgun on that one 🙂

Question of the day: Do you have any funny nicknames that you go by? What is/are the story behind it?


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