When things show up in threes, it’s time to take note. In the past week, I’ve read two slicers (Terje and Fran) who wrote about their names and last night when I was reading a book of poems, I came across a poem the author wrote about her name. I guess that’s the universe telling me my slice should be about my name. I’ve written a notebook entry about my name, but since that was over a decade ago, it’s time for an updated version.
My name common, ordinary, run-of-the-mill. Anyone who grew up in the 80’s or 90’s had at least one of us in their class, but most likely there were two or three. My name is Jennifer. Growing up, I longed to have a more unique name, something one-of-a-kind that would stick out and make people take notice whenever they heard it. I can remember asking my mom why I was given such a plain Jane name, and her response was that she wanted me to have a name everyone could spell because she hated growing up with an unusual name. In case you’re wondering, her name is Telva. Bet you’ve never heard that one, right?
I’ve always been Jennifer, never Jenny. No offense to the Jennys out there, I’m just not one of them. Throughout my life, I’ve taken on many other monikers, given to me by my various friends. There’s the obvious Jenn (not Jen), which no one in particular called me; it just happened organically. In seventh grade, Lisa Day decided on Fer-fer, choosing the latter part of my name as my nickname. That one was later shortened to Ferf. The only other person to call me Ferf is Jennifer Beene, my bestie when I moved to Houston. With both of us named Jennifer, we had nicknames for one another; she was Beeners to me. In high school, I had a part time job at Sonic, and my boss called me Goatalo. I never knew why, but he even made me a name tag with it, which was hard to explain when people asked about it.
At different stages in my life and by a variety of people, I’ve always been called by my last name, Kesler. I was never into sports, so I’m not sure why it started, but someone always decides that Kesler’s the name they’re going to call me and other people go along with it. I actually think it fits me; it’s unique and rolls off of the tongue. Then there are the variations of Kesler. To Michelle, I’m Kes-Kes. To Melissa and Brook, I’m J-Kes. To others, I’m simply JK. When I was teaching in Texas, a first grader couldn’t say my name properly, so I was Ms. Kes-a-ler to him, and he would yell it anytime he saw me around school. As a result, I was Kes-a-ler to a few of my teacher friends.
The most interesting nickname I have comes from my bestie Shannon, who I call Shaggers or Shags for short. She went a completely different route, and rather than take the beginning or the end of my name, she took the middle. So for the better part of the past decade, I’ve been Ennif (pronounced en-EE-f) to her and her family. Marlowe even calls me Auntie Ennif. It’s pretty cute.
On the Slice of Life Challenge, my username is aggiekesler, a name I created back in 1999 when I made my first Yahoo email account. As a member of the fighting Texas Aggie class of 2003 (Texas A&M), I figured Aggie was the way to go. It always cracks me up when people respond to the comments I leave with “Aggie,” since they assume that’s my first name. There are people who I’ve been writing on the challenge with for years who don’t know my real name, which is funny to me.
While I wish I’d been given a stand-out name as a child, I’ve grown accustomed to Jennifer and the many nicknames I’ve acquired over the years. The only thing I’ll never answer to is Jenny.
What’s the story behind your name?