The Uphill Slide

There is always something.

What’s In My Name?


My name is Barbara Yockey. It’s not the name I was given at birth; that was Barbara Claypoole. My mother told me that she was going to name me after my great-aunt Marinda. “Why didn’t you name me that?” I complained. I’ve never met another Marinda. I might have been a whole different person with that name. I might have been the clone eventually replacing the original. But alas, my parents named me the more common Barbara. Or Barb. One schoolmate called me Barbie; he was the only one. I had a nickname from my father, Petey-Pat or Petey-Patress. Don’t ask where that came from, too late to ask him now too. My husband recently called me Barbara, like my mother who was scolding me for cleaning my room by throwing everything under the bed. It sounded a bit like an insult. But sometimes that insult might be considered a compliment. For example, someone might call me Barbara The Bitch in an insulting derogatory way, but I might just say, “Thank you.” Depending on who and why, that name might tell me I’m doing something right.

I shared my birth name with my sister-in-law for a few years until I became Barbara Yockey. Another woman was in the Barbara Claypoole club. There may be more girls and women in the club. Sometimes it’s a club of thousands and sometimes an exclusive club. It’s what’s in that last name usually, the man’s name, husband or father.

I’ve had both of my names about equal time. I own them both. I share Barbara Yockey with another woman, an attorney, who is at the top of the Google search. Maybe she’s a relative, or maybe like me, it’s not her birth name either. My goal is to knock her out of first place. That might change, though. I have imagined a new name; it could be anything. Before I got married, I thought I might keep my birth name for life. It was the boom of the women’s lib movement (although feminists have been around forever) when women were choosing such things. Except when you think about it, you got your name from your parents so if you really want your own name, you need to make one up.

I’ve grown accustomed to Yockey like an old pair of pants, but there are other options. I thought Barbara Longfellow sounded good. Or maybe something more descriptive like Barbara Loves Dangling Earrings or Barbara Loves Hats might be perfect. When I introduced myself you would immediately know something about me, something I chose for you to know. And those names would surely propel me to the top of a Google search. I think I’ll keep my first name because it would be more difficult to adjust to that change, like the stray dog at the shelter who can’t tell you his name and gets a new one. Marinda would be an honor to my sweet great-aunt who never had children, but maybe this dog is too old to learn some new tricks.

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