Friday, December 14, 2012

What's in a name? Specifically, mine?

This is what you get when you search for "Jenny" in Google images.

I had two recent experiences of running into other people named "Jenny."

In case you are not of my generation, let me remind you how incredibly common the name "Jennifer" is. It was the #1 name given to babies from 1970 until 1979, beating the #2 name (which was "Amy," by the way) by a 2 to 1 margin.

There were 5 Jennifers in my kindergarten class. The teacher couldn't even separate us by first and middle name combinations because three of us were Jennifer Lynns. Then they tried to separate us by birthday, but two of us had been born on May 19. I didn't even get my own birthday. Awesome.

My freshman year of college there were 10 Jennifers on my floor in my dorm, including my roommate. Again, awesome.

We all got creative about our names. My roommate was J.J, the initials of her first and last name. Someone else went by Jenna, another was Jen, etc.

I ultimately stuck with what I'd been called all through high school: Floria. But my first name was always Jenny. When professors would call names at the beginning of the school year and call me "Jennifer," I immediately corrected them. It's Jenny.

If I'm accidentally called "Jennifer" in settings with my friends or relatives, they snicker. "You are not a Jennifer," they tell me. I don't feel like a Jennifer, that's for sure, but I couldn't tell what the difference was.

My daughter and I noticed that an employee at a store mall had a nametage that said Jenny. She was in her mid-20's, definitely not of my generation.

And on a recent trip to Caribou, I noticed that the barista's nametag said Jenny (another one in her mid 20's). I said to her, "I'm a Jenny, too!" as if it hadn't once been the most common name in the United States.

Surprisingly, she shared my enthusiasm. She took my order, and then we chatted a bit about our incredibly common name.

"So you never shortened it to Jen, or gone by Jennifer?" I asked.

"Nope, I'm a Jenny through and through," she said. "We're more bubbly, us Jennys. Am I right?"

Yes indeed, I believe that is the difference.

1 comment:

  1. Yes! There is a difference between Jenny and all the other Jennifer nicknames. My sister has NEVER been a Jenny. Always Jennifer or Jen. She's also shy and pretty serious so I agree Jenny is definitly for a more bubbly personality.
    My sister-in-law is also a Jennifer but she has gone by Jen. She's pretty outgoing, but still not a Jenny.
    I was reading that nowadays even the most popular names don't come close to the same numbers. It is something crazy like 1/3 of kids in the 70's and 80's shared the top 5 names (I need to find where I read that. I think it was on one of the big baby naming sites)