When we first moved to Georgia, my parents enrolled me in a private preschool. Immediately upon hearing my name, the director turned to my mom and asked whether she could call me Robin instead.
With a withering glance, my mom shot that shit down fast, but it was a forewarning of sorts. Folks would do their best to change my name and I would do my best to make sure they didn’t. But somewhere along the line, one name stuck and even though I despised it, I wasn’t able to shake it until college.
God, I hated that name. With a fucking passion.
It still makes my skin crawl when I hear it.
I have a very distinct memory of being on the playground in fifth grade, doing flips on the metal bars with Alison, and Rich teasing us with a laugh, “Mod, Al wants your bod” or maybe it was “Al, Mod wants your bod”. The fine details are irrelevant – what counts is that stupid name.
I’m not saying Rich gave me that nickname – I honestly don’t think he did – but that’s my first memory of it.
And I couldn’t tell you if Rich and I ever spoke to one another again after fifth grade (I don’t think we did – he was popular, I so was not) but holy shit, did that name stick. By high school, I think all of my close friends – Noelle, Mikki, Stephanie, Joe, Chris, Debbie, Rebecca, Angie, Mike, Dave, Chris C, Cindy, Jenny – used it.
Every single one of them.
One of the great things about college is getting to reinvent yourself, finding a truer version of yourself.
And escaping a nickname you hate.
Which is exactly what I managed to do during my four years at Barnard. By the end of college, I think the only person who called me Mod was my dad. And you know you can’t tell your dad to cut it out.
Today, there are only three people who still use Mod: my dad, my girlfriend, Priya, and my brother-in-law. Three is much better than damn near everyone you know.
Interestingly enough, earlier this year my friend, Tim, started calling me Madge. He said I just seem like a Madge.
Then on The Vineyard, everyone we vacationed with started calling me Madge, so much so that the name seems to have stuck.
And you know what? I kind of love it.
It sounds a little badass.
I was never a Mod, but damn if I don’t feel 100% a Madge.