Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Rose by Any Other Name . . .

by Anna Arnett

There's been quite a flurry on our E-mail social line about ANWA growing so much we now have multiple first names. There's even another Anna in my chapter. I marvel at the creative flow. In the past I've signed Anna of Gilbert, to give a small clue about where I lived, even though I don't actually live in Gilbert. I live in Chandler (and so does Anna W.) Gilbert is across two of our fences, and schools, ward, stake,loyalties, etc. are in Gilbert. (I don't know why I'm going into all this, when I'll probably just delete it.)

For ANWA emails, I almost immediately chose Lolly as my sign-in name. But a lingering cloud still hangs over Lolly. By now it's pretty wispy, but at one time it almost completely obliterated the word, and me.

My parents always intended calling me "Laurene," but slipped "Anna" in front to honor my Danish grandmother. I only heard Anna when I was bad and my mother gave me the whole works; "Anna Laurene Liljenquist, get over here RIGHT NOW!"

(In fourth grade I signed "Anna Laurene" to one English paper, and the teacher misunderstood. When calling on me she'd repeat "Anna" several times before the girl next to me whispered, "Isn't that you?")

Since I was the tail-end of our family, everybody petted me and used endearing names. I was also a chubby child (a condition I never outgrew) and 'Lolly' seems rather soft and squishy. Whatever the reason, Lolly won out as their favorite. All my friends called me Lolly, too.

This was okay with me, until the bombshell hit. The summer between my elementary and high school status, I discovered my Uncle Oz (short for Oswell) and his hulking, lumbering (in my sight because they paid little attention to their youngest cousin) boys said lolly for a cow's teat. I just looked up teat in my trusty Reader's Digest Encyclopedic Dictionary to be sure of the spelling since we always said, "tit". I love the definition: "the protuberance on the breast or udder of most female mammals, through which the milk is drawn; a nipple; pap; dug." (I wonder what my reaction would have been had I known about 'pap'.)

Anyway, after this horrible revelation, I absolutely repudiated my nickname. Every time some unenlightened soul called me Lolly, I immediately added, "Pop. I'm Lollypop." Somehow it soothed my soul. My friends, all twenty-four of them in my freshman class and the sixteen in the other, seemed to agree on one thing; Lollypop is too long for a nickname. Since I refused Lolly, they shortened it to Pop. Therefore, in this little two-room, two-teacher Archer High School, one of the youngest (and I'd like to add sweetest, most feminine, even if it doesn't fit) girls was called Pop.

I got away from nicknames by the time we moved on to Madison High School in Rexburg, and of course I never stooped so low while a working girl, college student, wife or mother. I only had to explain it to my husband when somebody, like my brother-in-law in Idaho, called me Lolly. The sting had lost its bite by then, but I had no desire to resurrect the nickname.

Until we served a temple mission in Australia. On a double-decker bus heading for Adelaide during one of our breaks, the bus driver gave us a choice of two movies he could show. The answers were far from unanimous. "Tell you what we'll do. Take a vote. Every lolly you bring me will count as one vote for your choice."

We American minority looked at each other. "What's a lolly?"

"Any sweet will do. Candy, gum, cookies. I'll take them all."

Suddenly, Lolly took on a new, absolutely delightful meaning. I would like to say I embraced it wholeheartedly, but I'd been years without a nickname, and I could continue that way. Yet, when I attacked it to my first given name, I like the sound. Sometimes I write Anna Lolly, sometimes Annalolly, and sometimes I imitate e.e.cummings and choose the lazier way of annalolly. I think I'll choose the latter.

Little by little, Charles started using Lolly, and during the last year or two of his life that's what he called me.

It is a nice name.

6 comments:

  1. Okay, I'm the first to comment. It always amazes me that I can proofread carefully before hitting the "Publish" button, and completely miss the glaring spelling and punctuation mistakes I spot immediatly afterward.

    We really do see what we expect to see, rather than what is actually there. Maybe I'm not alone. I'll remember to excuse all such mistakes I spot in your emails and blogs if you will forgive me mine.

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  2. Grandma you are so cute! I knew that Grandpa called you Lolly but I had no idea why or where it came from. I like Lolly! It's cute! Or should I say, it's SWEET! I love you Grandma! I think you are perfect in every way!

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  3. Ive been peeking in on the blog for a while now, I even spoke with you about attending a meeting but never have been able to, so I hope you dont mind me commenting. "Lolly" is a term we use for getting lovin from mom. We "lollied" on her lap before bed and even now as adults my sisters and I "lolly" on each other. So I think its a fabulous name.

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  4. Years ago my then BF and I decided we wanted to go by different names since we were going to be roommates in VA. So I chose my middle name Dean which I still think is a great author name. Her "new" name stuck, mine didn't. I couldn't remember to answer to it, giggle.

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  5. Anna, I loved reading your post. You never fail to bring a smile to my face and delight to my heart. Thanks for being you!

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  6. Anna, that was delightful. I'm glad you've decided Lolly is an okay name, particularly since Charles used it. I could relate to the part about the cow's teat, though - not a particularly flattering connection regardless how much you love the definition. Thanks for the entertainment with your essay.

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