Playing the name game

There’s some confusion about my name — my first name, I mean, don’t even get me started on my last name with the two consonants that never go together in the English language. As far as I can tell, “Catherine” is usually spelled with a K — this learned after years of people trying to spell my name with said letter. That’s not so bad, and I suppose I don’t help matters — people also call me Kat, but, as you can tell, I insist that Kat is spelled with a K, even though my full name starts with a C.

Being called either Kat or Catherine doesn’t bother me. More people go with Catherine just because it’s usually what I introduce myself as, mainly for two reasons. One, it’s my byline, though sometimes I wish I had gone with Kat, as trying to fit 14 letters on a one-line byline is not always easy, depending on your paper’s layout. During my internship, the letter count in my editor’s first and last names was equivalent to just my first name, and he never had problems with a one-line byline. Two, when I was little, my mom wouldn’t let anyone shorten my name. You’d think she’d have learned with my younger brother then — name the kid something that can’t be shortened — but she didn’t, and now he goes by a nickname all the time. (Which one of my friends finds weird — she went to high school with both of us and is always confused for a moment when I refer to my brother by his full name, because “nobody” calls him by his full name.)

Some people even get away with calling me Kitty, but if you don’t think you’re one of those people, I don’t recommend trying it. What does bother me is when people try to call me Cathy. Usually they learn after trying it once, though I had a source one time — I think he might have been slightly deaf — insist on calling me Cathy, no matter how many times I corrected him. The interview was out of town and I was a little high strung by the time I came back to town, to the surprise of the unsuspecting cameraman from the TV station.

Starbucks is also becoming my least favourite coffee shop in town — we have four Tims, one Starbucks, one main independent open at weird hours and no Second Cup — and after rather poor service the last time I was there, it didn’t get any better this time. The girl who took my order asked for my name so the barista knew who to give it to. I told her “Catherine,” and to her credit, she asked, “With a C or a K?” which, when it’s for something like that, doesn’t really bother me. Do note that there are other landmines with spelling “Catherine” — it can be a E, A, or no letter (Catherine, Katharine, Kathryn), an I or a Y (Katherine, Kathryn) and then E or no E at the end.

But seriously, whatever. As long as I get a caramel machiatto with a name on the cup that resembles Catherine, I’ll consider it good coffee.

Then she asked me if she could just write Cathy on the cup.

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