Tuesday, July 17: Here is FrizzText’s Story Challenge: Letter C for this week: Do you have a story or a short reflection tagged with the letter “C” to share? For example you can write about CHILDHOOD and CHERNOBYL, CATS and CHATS, CIRCLES and CHALLENGES, CRUISE SHIPS and CAPTAINS, CELEBRATIONS and CUCKOO CLOCKS, CAPPUCCINO or CAPPADOCIA, CRUELTY and CHINA, CENSORSHIP and CAMOUFLAGE, CITIES and CUCUMBERS, CHANGES and CONTACTS, CHRISTIANITY or CARTOONS, COFFINS and COLORS, COCA COLA and CASTLES, CHARACTER or CONCENTRATION, CONTRASTS and CULTURES, CARNIVAL or CARS, CELIBACY or CURIOSITY, CORMORANTS and COURAGE, CINEMAS or CATHEDRALS, COLOGNE or CALCUTTA, CAFÉS and COMMUNITIES – I’m sure you’ll find an own story or a short reflection tagged with “C”!
I love so many of FrizzText’s ideas, especially Cappadocia, cafes, cathedrals, coffee, cultures… there are so many to choose from!! But I’ve written loads already about Cappadocia, which I adore. It’s actually probably my favorite place in the world.
And the other topics will have to wait for another time, another challenge.
Because, for some reason, I feel compelled to write about my name: Cathy.
First of all, the name Cathy is just a nickname, coming from Catherine or Katherine. It comes from the Greek apparently, and means “Pure Maiden!” That really makes me laugh. Me, a pure maiden?
My name is spelled with a “C,” and I have to say I never appreciate it when people automatically spell it with a “K,” even though it’s a natural mistake.
So, how did I get a nickname as my legal name? My mother tells the story that when I first appeared on the scene in Petersburg, Virginia, in all my sudden smallness, she just couldn’t bring herself to give such a big name (Catherine) to such a miniscule baby!! Hmmm. Didn’t she think I would ever grow up?
So now I’m in my 50s and Cathy isn’t too bad yet, I guess, for someone in their 50s. But what about when I’m in my 60s and 70s and 80s!!?? Wouldn’t it somehow be more dignified, more sophisticated to be a Catherine? Or even a Kate? Kate being a nickname for Katherine, but hardly a nickname for the nickname of Cathy!! Can you even have a nickname for a nickname?
I think of the famous Catherines: Catherine the Great, Katherine Hepburn, Katherine Heigl, Catherine Deneuve, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Catherine de Medici (royalty!). Just look at all the famous Catherines!! But when I look up the “famous” Cathys, I don’t recognize a single one. There is absolutely a list of famous Cathys, but if I’ve never heard of them, how famous can they be?
Oh, wait, but there is the famous cartoonist, Cathy Guisewite. Her cartoons featured a woman named Cathy who struggled through the “four basic guilt groups” of life — food, love, mom, and work — the strip gently poked fun at the lives and foibles of modern women. Cathy’s characteristics and issues both made fun of and sometimes fed into negative stereotypes about women. The strip debuted on November 22, 1976, and at its peak appeared in over 1,400 newspapers.
When I was born in the mid 1950s, apparently Cathy (or Kathy or Katherine or Catherine) was a very popular name. As a matter of fact, statistics show that this name was at the height of its popularity between 1950 and 1960. So when I was in elementary school all the way through high school, I had as many as five Cathys in every one of my classes. Imagine the teachers trying to figure out how to designate which Cathy was which. I don’t remember now what the solution was, but somehow I think I got to be known by my last name which was Birdsong. So to many of my friends, I became Birdie, or Birdlegs, or Birdbrain, or even worse. You can only imagine.
My first husband even engraved on the inside of my wedding band, “Always, Birdie.”
Maybe someday I will fill out some paperwork, go to the government authorities, pay a fee and change my name to Catherine. I would like that really. But who would call me that? Only NEW people I meet, because all the people who have known me my whole life will continue to call me Cathy. Argh!
One year, my daughter Sarah went to summer camp and she decided she wanted to be “Sal.” So she told everyone at camp that was her name. I was surprised when we went to pick her up at camp, and everyone was calling her Sal!
And Sarah at least has a song named after her. “Sara” by Fleetwood Mac. Or “Sarah Smile” by Hall & Oats. What about Cathy? Is there any song out there about Cathy?
I guess since I am a nomad and I work and live abroad, wearing new countries like a new skin, I should just tell people when I go to a new place that I am Catherine. Or Kate. Or even Isabella. How about Sophia, Camilla, Gabriella? I always loved Italian girl names. I guess I could try anything on for size!