Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What's in a Name?

The former Prime Minister is a controversial guy whose name, Alexis, is featured in graffiti all over this city. At first it was fun to see my name everywhere (if not a little egocentric, since obviously no-one had me in mind when they wrote "Alexis" in 3-foot-tall letters on the side of that building), but I'm OVER it.

It's ironic that I have spent 75 % of my life living in French speaking countries where the name Alexis is never, ever a woman's name. Upon hearing my name, Haitians assume one of two things:

1. It Is my last name, which inevitably produces the following conversation:
New acquaintance: What is your name?
Me: Alexis.
NA: No, your first name.
Me: Alexis.
NA: You don't understand my question. I know Alexis is your name. But what is your first name?
Me: My first name is Alexis. My last name is Depp.
NA: But that is a man's name.
Me: In Haiti (and yes, in every other francophone country in the world), it's a man's name but in the US, it's a woman's name.
NA: (shock, disbelief and discomfort)

There are people I have known for months here that don't believe that Alexis is my first name. They usually call me Madame Alexis or try to avoid calling me anything at all. One coworker periodically calls Ben by my name. Since Ben and I are married, it must be his last name, too, right? Recently at the National Consultation Panel for Deportees meeting, a guy whose last name did happen to be Alexis was trying to get my attention from across the room. It took me a long time to realize that "Dip" was supposed to be me. ("Depp" is hard to pronounce with a Kreyol/French accent.) Sigh.

2. I am a man. I can't tell you how many work emails I receive addressed to Mr. Depp. This assuming that I am a man thing usually only happens when I'm not meeting someone in person. However, in Desarmes a friend recently asked Sharon something along the lines of, "Her name is Alexis? Is she really a girl?"

On the bright side, my parents did not name me Kenlove, Kencheri, Lovedarling, or Cherilove like the parents of the children Ben met on Lagonav. There's a child named Makenlove on the island, too. In Desarmes, friends recently met a Bitchin and a Mylove. I hear Obama is also a trendy name these days.

5 comments:

Maggie said...

HILARIOUS. I seriously laughed out loud while reading this entry, Dip. :) Next time, I will tell you some names people call their children in the deep south. Frightening.

Karen said...

I won't even get into the names that the ladies at my work come up with for their offspring. These babies *wish* they could be Bitchin.

Nanci Erkert said...

Please forgive me. Mom

Timbo said...

ahahah, how about Lexi?

Amy said...

Ha, ha...my maiden name is "Manlove" - seriously, it is, and I'm not Haitian or French!!! Just a simple white girl from Minnesota!!!

~Amy (now from Wisconsin)

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