To my knowledge I have not been cloned. Nor did my mother give birth to 110 children identical to me…what would be the term for that? Nevermind. That is not medically possible. Yet. The doctors broke the mold after I was born. (Broke the mold? What a horrible euphemism for tubal ligation?!) No, no, no. I’ve just had the unfortunate luck of being saddled with a common name. My mother would dispute my claim of commonality, given the spelling—which I’ll address in a bit, and she’d raise a fuss over the reasoning behind my name. That being my first and middle name were taken from her and my father, equal parts because I came from both of them (um, heartwarming stuff = gross). Except then I get his last name, so does that mean I’m more of him than her? An orthodontist once claimed that I had my father’s teeth in my mother’s mouth. Look. I don’t understand how DNA works. All I know is that if I’d been called Jan Bruce, there’d be fewer of me.
One hundred and eleven Katharine Millers are wandering around the U.S. At least. We are not clones. We all sprang forth from different wombs. Many of us have different middle names. But how many of us were born this way? Are you a natural Katharine Miller or have you come by it in some other manner? The “How Many of Me” site only counts those in the United States. How many of us are scattered around the world?! Thank goodness the government had the good sense to issue unique numbers by which we can be identified! (Starts a rant about the recent disappearance of good sense in the government, smashes fist into desk, bandages fist and deletes socialist missive…for now.) I think we’ve all got unique fingerprints. And dental records. Nobody’s got teeth like mine.
I have encountered some of these other “Katharines” through self-Googling. Some of them are writers and artists. I suspect the more internet-savvy of us have been engaged in a passive battle over our “brand.” We race to the latest social media sign-up page to snag our rightful given name. And groaning to find that we’ll have to once again rely on an alias, nickname, or be relegated to “katharinemiller099.” I won the .com domain, but another me runs around with the email addresses, the Facebook extension, the Twitter handle. I’m not bitter, but one of the other me’s might be. Until the Internet as we know it crashes and we all have to begin anew developing our cyber-brands, 111 Katharine Millers must be content with our self-generated identities and aliases.
In another lifetime, I did some experimentations with nicknames. Was I a Kate or Kat? A Kathy or a Katie? Kathar or Kitty? Or could I be really whimsical and be an Arin? Fat girls are Kathys. This fat girl was, for a time. In grade school, I was desperate to be called something different. The girl ahead of me in roll call was called Jasmine. And to a little hearing-challenged girl in a room full of noisy brat-type children, “Jasmine” and “Katharine” sound identical. I was probably marked as absent more frequently than necessary just because I’d missed my name in roll call. I signed all my papers “Kathy,” begged my family and teachers and what passed for friends to call me “Kathy.” After three years, it finally took. By then, Jasmine was in a different homeroom or had moved away. I changed the “Y” to an “I”, possibly meant ironically. Or maybe I had an aversion to descenders.
In junior high, I was stuck in homeroom with a “Katie Miller.” She was a “Katherine” and it forever bothered me that she got placed ahead of me alphabetically. Who made that decision? “A” comes before “E” in the alphabet, yes? Were the administrators too lazy to acknowledge the different spellings of our first names and just decided to place us based on middle names? “A” definitely comes before “L.” It was merely protest that I refused to earn any As during these years. Yes, I like that rewriting of history. Damn the man! Occupy report cards! Too soon?
Which brings me to the fact that there are 111 “Katharine Millers.” That does not include the Millers called Katherine, Catherine, Kathryn, Kathrine, Catharine, Cathryn, and the myriad variations. There could be thousands of us. Millions. So much for being a special and unique snowflake. Most people operate under the misapprehension that a name’s a name and it doesn’t matter how it’s spelled. “A rose by any other name…” It damn well does matter! Whether I might have wanted to be called Svetlana or Roxanne or Cordelia or Peppermint-Moonbean Rainbowdust, my name is my name and my parents’ very special love led to my name. My mother took care in specifically choosing the “K” and the “A” and putting it down on all the official government documents. It’s my identity. It’s my brand. To allow people to routinely misspell my name is to do a grave disservice to my brand.
I gave up “Kathi” fifteen years ago. It’s “Katharine” now, please and thank you. Not Katherine, like someone who’s unsure of her name. KathARine, like a self-assured saucy pirate’s wench. Only my very best friends are permitted to call me “Kat.” And that’s only after they’ve passed the spelling test.