Willette didn’t mind that her name was so unusual, except when she met someone new. Something that occurred on a daily basis.
“Willette? Is that with one T or two?” – Hotel reservations.
“Willette? I thought that was a man’s name.” – Bank teller.
“Willette? Isn’t that a river in Portland?” – Tavern Law patron.
Willette met these daily queries with The Look she perfected as a child on the first day of school, when her new teacher asked the inevitable question: “Willette? How did you get such an unusual name?”
The Look: Lips pursed. Short blast of air from flared nostrils, almost a snort. Rapid eye blinks, followed by a swift eye roll, a brief glare into the eyes of the questioner, and then a furious glance at the floor. Willette had to use The Look so often that the entire sequence took less than a minute. Years of The Look had etched a permanent, cranky mask on Willette’s small features, and her slim lips were always pressed tightly together, forming a thin, pink-lipsticked line.
So, Willette did mind that her name was so unusual. In fact, she hated it. Why would her parents saddle her with this prissy moniker, something she couldn’t get rid of even when she got married. Oh, she knew the story of The Name. Her parents told this tale to countless babysitters, friends, doctors, dentists, and people that innocently married into Willettes smallish family.
As her parents told it, it was a simple story that made perfect sense. Her grandfather, her Mom’s dad, was named was William. William was still alive. Her Dad’s younger sister was named Lynette. Lynette died in a car accident before Willette was born. Willette resented the fact that a spur of the moment decision to amalgamate the names of the old and unfortunate turned out to be an ongoing pain in the ass for The Name’s recipient. The most annoying thing to Willette was that the story of her name was one of the few things that didn’t spark a fight between her parents. They actually seemed pleased to agree on this one stupid thing.