Sometime in 1980 my father and three uncles got together to review a list of girl names since in a few months they would each have a newborn daughter. I’m not sure if my dad had already made up his mind or didn’t like the list my eccentric uncle had compiled, but “Doris” was absent from that list. According to my cousins — Susy, Rossi, and Ingrid — I dodged a bullet. However, I wouldn’t say that life as Doris began so well.
I’m sure most people disliked their names as children, but I really detested mine. When “Lunchlady Doris” came to fame during my youth, she ensured that “Doris” would remain a mature woman’s name, thereby exaggerating my precociousness. Every time the elderly women in South Florida heard my name, they’d rejoice and reminisce about a flapper they knew named Doris. This made me feel especially uncool. I couldn’t even make a nickname out of it.
That was my official stance. In secret, I was obsessed with having personalized things. All I ever wanted was a backpack, pencil case, or lunchbox with my name in letters with dots on the end, as was the thing to do in the late 1980s. But my mother wouldn’t oblige since she thought that would make me a target for kidnappers. “Hey, Doris,” a stranger might say to me in a parking lot as I wore said backpack, “Your mom said to come with me.” And of course I’d go since most Dorises are very obedient.
Now that I’m older and no longer under my mother’s rules, I “Doris” everything. Since a backpack with my name wouldn’t fly as an adult, I’ve got my name all over less interesting things like business cards, return address labels, stationery, and stamps. But I still think these items look cool. Probably because I’ve finally embraced my name. After all, I may be the only Doris you ever meet.