What’s in a Name?

Or, more accurately, what’s your name in?

Last night, I experienced something for the first time that is probably “old hat” to almost everyone else…

In the movie Waitress (1), the main character’s name is “Jenna” — spelled incorrectly, but pronounced the same as mine.

Now, normally, if someone’s saying Jenna, they’re meaning me (2), so during the first thirty minutes of the movie every time another character said “Jenna, you really need to …” or “Hurry up now, Jenna” or “Jenna, where’s that pie?” (3) I did a little cartoon double-take (4).

For those of you with more popular names (Mike, John, Anne, Jennifer, etc.), do you still do this (the little double-take thing)?  Did you ever?  If you did once, but you don’t anymore, do you remember what movie/show/party/school classmade made you stop?

(1) Good movie.  Highly recommended.
(2) If they’re saying “Geena” they’re probably also meaning me, but they probably don’t know me all that well and I might ignore them.
(3) Which they did *a lot* in the movie.  Or maybe I was oversensitive?  Sanity check on that one?
(4) It probably didn’t help that the movie was set in the (unspecified) South, so they sounded like people I’d know too.

20 thoughts on “What’s in a Name?

  1. Because I casually go by Badger, I only had that problem with Firefly / Serenity. :)
    Oh, as for 3, pies are central to the film. You’re not oversensitive to it.


  2. I have a name that is supposed to be shorthand for common names (say “Joe Commonname” and you’ll know what I mean). But the reality is that I know almost no one else who goes by “Joe” or “Joseph.” It’s odd. When I do run into someone with my name, and we’re around each other for a while — yes, it can get confusing.
    Fortunately my last name is extremely distinctive.


    • Hmmm… you’re one of 5 Joe’s I can think of off the top of my head; however, none of them (save you) are folks I really keep up with.
      Oh and on Josep, which is not quite the same thing.


  3. I think the only movie I’ve seen with someone who had my name was 5th Element, and it was a last name…but I hear my name everywhere else. Especially at work when people are discussing their travel plans – we have alot of coworkers that go to Texas. I constantly do doubletakes and prick my ears up to make sure they’re not really talking about me.


    • On a sidenote, I remember in elementary school at one time when the Cowboys were in the Superbowl (I think) and when I came into school the next day, someone had written on the board “Dallas sucks!” :( I thought they were talking about me.


    • I don’t think I’ve ever encountered anyone with the first name Dallas. What’s the story behind it? Does it involve the lost luggage department of Dallas Fort Worth airport?
      There aren’t any good stories behind names like “Steve”.


      • That works too. Although you could have a lot of fun making up a story along the lines of Fenchurch:
        “You were about to ask me,” she said, “a question.”
        “Yes,” said Arthur.
        “We can do it together if you like,” said Fenchurch. “Was I found …”
        “… in a handbag …” joined in Arthur.
        “… in the Left Luggage Office …” they said together.
        “… at Fenchurch street station,” they finished.
        “And the answer,” said Fenchurch, “is no.”
        “Fine,” said Arthur.
        “I was conceived there.”
        “I was con-”
        “In the Left Luggage Office?” hooted Arthur.
        “No, of course not. Don’t be silly. What would my parents be doing in the Left Luggage Office?” she said, rather taken aback by the suggestion.
        “Well, I don’t know,” spluttered Arthur, “or rather …”
        “It was in the ticket queue.”
        “The …”
        “The ticket queue. Or so they claim. They refuse to elaborate. They only say you wouldn’t believe how bored it is possible to get in the ticket queue at Fenchurch Street Station.”


  4. I’ve never had any problems when I hear my name being used in movies. I do, however, tune in when I hear it out in the Real World. Not so much a double take. More of a slight diversion of attention to see if it’s for or about me. I guess because my name’s so common I’m fairly accustomed to hearing it. Unless someone is shouting or specifically calling out my name to get my (or someone else’s) attention.


      • No, I think Michael actually turns my head less. Unless it’s my Mom’s voice. *grin*
        Walking down the hall at work today, I heard someone call out a question starting with “Mike, …” over the cube wall as I walked by. Definitely, made me start and look around. It wasn’t for me. Based on that, I’d guess that I probably do that a lot, but I’m just so used to it that none of those experiences become long term memories.


  5. Like thebroomecloset, I am also rarely affected by my name in movies. Unlike him, it almost always draws my attention in real-life, even when it’s not me they’re talking about.


  6. my experience would probably be very useful to you.
    I didn’t hear “Gina” when her name was said. That is most likely because I read too much. I will watch a subtitled movie and forget that a favorite actress doesn’t speak english because that is how I remember the movie. So I remember hearing Jenna (my niece’s name is Jenna) because that is what is written on her nametag. I think I forced it that way during the movie, they would say Gina and I would repeat in my head Jenna. I vaguely remember doing that.
    On the turning of heads at the name Gina being spoken, I so know what you are talking about. Growing up, there were no other Ginas besides me (ok honestly, there was one other Gina and two Reginas until I graduated college with a Masters so a very long time and very few Ginas).
    Now that I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, there are Ginas all over the place. Less than a mile from home is Gina’s Beauty Store. The first few years it really bugged me (an delighted me) because I had gotten used to being unique. A decade later, I just don’t notice it. I will hear something like my name (Gina, Tina, Leena, etc) and I will turn because it might be me but it isn’t as startling and amazing as it was before.


    • How neat it is to hear from another kind of Gina! I don’t think I realized you had a niece Jenna — that’s cool!)
      I have met two other “Gina” (“jenna”)’s in my life — one was at swimming lessons at the Y when I was about 6 and the other was a FOF who also sings (haven’t seen her in eons though). I know there must be more out there, but I think they may be hiding :-)
      Pom kisses to you!


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