Hi, my name is almost-Lesley

 My name is Dena.  Capital D – one E – N – A. 

That usually translates into: Deena, Dina, Dinah, Diana, Deana, Denna, Donna, DeAnna, Tina, Gina, Ginger.  I’m not quite sure how that last one made it onto the misspelled name list, but it comes up sometimes.  Eeerr??

As a kid, I hated my name.  In Italy, the Italian girls made fun of me quite often by pointing out that my name was misspelled.  If my name was pronouce Dee-na, then it should be spelled Dina.  With an I. But I’m not Italian and my folks had no clue when I was born that they’d be dragging us to Italy to live for 4 years, with all the Katrinas, Gisellas, and Angelinas. 

The Italian girls called me Deh-na.  That still gets my goat!

Of course, I asked my mother why she and my father would give me this name that nobody can pronounce.  It was the late seventies and the world was being blitzed with Heathers and Michelles and Jennifers.  Mom and Dad wanted to be “different” with my name.  Since they weren’t hippies, I was never going to be a Talulah Starshine or a Rainbow Daisypants or anything like that. But my older brother had been given the middle name of my father’s father and,I guess, my parents decided to name me after my father.

His name is Dennis.

Mom and Dad weren’t too fond of the name Denise, so that really left them with nothing.  They had to make it up from there. Stumped, Mom suggested the name Lesley after her favorite actress, Lesley Ann Warren.  I like the name Lesley but I had no say in my own name.  And Lesley sounds nothing like Dennis. Still stuck on the whole Dennis thing, they came up with Dena.

We share a first, second, and third letter in  our names, Dad and me. Sadly, the E doesn’t even match. 

I sound ungrateful and I don’t mean to. My name is perfectly fine, but…

It’s the Old English version of Diana.  It means “valley”…I don’t know what that means. And I hate valleys. There’s a touch of claustrophobia in me when I’m in a valley. Other names that mean valley: Dahlia, Saskia, and Valonia.  Don’t those names just bubble over with exotic flair?  Oooh! Oooh! There are more: Maiya, Vallombrosa, and Guadalupe

YES! Those names are enticing, spicy, alluring, captivating…those are the women in the club getting free drinks from the menfolk, with luscious brunette locks and gorgeous, sultry dark eyes. The long legs, the svelte and curvy body, and the easy way with conservation…that’s who those women are.  But who’s Dena? Where did Dena go?

Dena is somewhere in the corner arguing with some Italian dude about how to pronouce her name.  E…it’s a freakin’ single E!!!  Yes, I know it’s not spelled correctly, in Italian!  But I’m Polish! And German! And Prussian! <– yeah, who can say that these days?  And, no, my name probably has no significance in those countries, either.

I like the name Lesley. I really do.  It has not escaped notice that Lesley is also misspelled.  Well, I can’t really say these names are misspelled so much as they’re just flat out screwed up.  I will never understand the idea of taking a perfectly good name and changing out or adding a letter to make it more unique. Seriously, I had to ask one of my new student workers if her name was Allison, Alison, Allyson, Alyson, or Aleson.

She said her name was spelled the normal way. 

Hmmph, must be nice!


About Dena

I'm a suburban Clevelander by way of Oklahoma City, by way of North Florida, by way of Southern Maryland, by way of Upper Michigan, by way of Northern Italy, by way of Lower Michigan, by way of Texas. Because of living in so many places, I have something in common with almost everyone I meet. I love reading, writing, and American history (especially reading or writing about American history). I'm interested in culture of place, historical trauma, and writing about the kinds of histories most people don't know about.
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2 Responses to Hi, my name is almost-Lesley

  1. Sra says:

    I know what you mean. I have the Sarah with an H or without an H problem. I have an H, but to complicate matters, I drop it from my nickname. I’m usually not too bothered when people drop my H, but when they do it on Facebook where my spelling is plainly visible, I get a wee peeved.

    I know a Dina. I think it’s a nice name, regardless how it’s spelled.

    • Dena says:

      Strangely enough, that Facebook goof has happened to me, too. I meet more and more Dena/Deena/Dinas. We’re all subjected to it, in some way!

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