Thursday, February 12, 2015
"They call me Katherine that do talk of me"...or Some Name Like That
By Jody Worsham, aka Jo, aka Worsham, aka Mrs., aka Mable, aka MayBelle
All rights reserved and with apologies to Willie Shakespeare and Southern Moms everywhere
For over 65 years I have been known as Jody, the nickname I was given in the first grade, the name on my book “Kin We’re Not Related To”, the name on this blog, and the name I am known by to all of my friends and professional colleagues.
Name problems seem to have started when I married. My husband had six brothers and sisters which, over the years, netted four “Mrs. Worshams”. During holidays when all the daughter-in-laws were home, you could not call their home and ask for “Mrs. Worsham”. If you did, four different women might come to the phone or no one, each thinking the call was for the other one. Mostly “Mrs.” referred to the elder mother/mother-in-law. It did not get much better with the Raymonds either. There was Raymond the father-in-law, Raymond the son-in-law, Raymond the nephew, and Raymond my husband. Hence you always had to call a Raymond by both his first name and his middle name in order to get the correct Raymond’s attention, well except for Raymond the father-in-law. I don’t think he had a middle name but since he was the first Raymond and the only one without a middle name, everyone knew the Raymond you were referring to if you just asked for Raymond.
Then for almost 40 years, I was Worsham to my students. They used Worsham in the same way athletes used "coach." It was faster for my students to get a response with “Worsham, fire” or “Worsham, light falling” or “Worsham, principal coming!” (I was a very creative and unconventional theatre arts teacher who made principals very nervous) then to call me “Mrs.” Worsham and wait for me to process that “Mrs.” was referring to me. But then my husband was also a teacher and his students referred to him as “Worsham” as well. His brother, too, was a teacher and his students called him “Worsham”. Over the years, any educational convention would find students and former students having to qualify which “Worsham” they were referencing.
Jody and Worsham served me for 50 years except for the choir teacher, who called me by my official name, Jo, and my mother, who insists on calling me by both my first name and the middle name she put on my birth certificate. When I needed a passport, official birth name only was required. Doctors began using computers and social security numbers for identification and part of my prescriptions are under Jody and part are under Jo. I am afraid to buy Sudafed at the pharmacy for fear it will look like two people trying to buy the decongestant at the same time using the same social security number and a driver’s license that that did not have Jody on it
The name problems have followed me into decade number 7. My nine-year-old and my thirteen-year-old go to a small rural school where all the students say “yes, mam” and “no, mam”. Those that don't are probably transfers. As a substitute teacher it is refreshing to hear "yes, mam" and "no, mam". I did notice that when I would work in the concession stand for Little Dribblers, I was always referred to as “Mrs. Worsham” even though all the other mothers and dads with nine-year-olds had first names. In Parent Teacher Organization meetings again everyone had a first name except me. Finally I said to the other parents in the PTO (by way of Facebook of course):
“Ok, why is it that everybody has a first name like Susan or Kathryn, or Holly, and mine is “Mrs.?” I move that I be called Jody or Jo or Worsham. Or I’ll even take a new first name like Betty or Tammy. I’ll take a double name Mable Rae or Ethel Mae. I may be twice your age…ok three times your age but with a nine-year-old, I forget how old I am. You have my permission to forget it to.”
Of course one of the parents is a former student of mine. She had trouble calling me Worsham even as a teenager but she promised to try “Jo .” I could tell at the slight hesitation before “Jo” that she expected her Mama to pop her on the head any minute for being disrespectful to a teacher and the elderly.
I guess I will just have to answer to anything. At my age people will just say “SORRY, MRS. WORSHAM. I WAS HOLLERING FOR MINNIE LOU.”