Second Names

By Shannon

Upon his return from preschool one afternoon, Halen announced that his second name was “Hayden.” “Why do you need a second name?” I asked.

He thought a moment and then said, “I guess because people don’t want to call me Halen.”

This second name of Halen’s worked just as well as his first: When someone said, “Hey, give me a high five, Hayden,” Halen gave a high five. When someone said, “Hayden, pass the glue,” Halen passed the glue. When someone said, “Hayden, wanna play tag?” Halen said “Sure!” No problem.

I have a second name too. It’s Sharon. When a nurse says “Sharon, the doctor is ready to see you,” I say “Okay.” When a new acquaintance says, “Sharon! How was your week?” I say, “Pretty good!” When my mom says, “Sharon, what would you like for your birthday this year?” I say, “New pillows!”

Soon after Joey and I were engaged, his dad introduced me to his grandfather as Sharon. Joey’s grandfather promptly forgot my second name and called me Shelly instead. That’s my third name. It was a very confusing conversation.

I used to think people fail to remember I’m a Shannon because I somehow just look like a Sharon. But then a year or so ago when I was training a freelance editor (an editor!) I’d never met in person, I had this e-mail exchange:

7/15, from me: 

Hi Jill,

I've reviewed script 92 and posted it to the SharePoint site. You made some good queries; I added the term "notification area" to the CBT Style Sheet.


7/18, from Jill:

Hi, Sharon -- 

Thanks for your note.  I've been reviewing lots of documents, trying to absorb the correct way to do things. . . . 

Thanks so much.


7/19, from me:

Hi Jill,

I've attached my review of script 001. . . . 

Best regards,

7/19, from Jill:

Sharon, thanks for the tutorial.  I know you're busy; this works for me.  I'll post #1 this afternoon. . . .

Best, Jill

My project manager, who was copied on this e-mail thread, e-mailed Jill at this point and dropped my real name three times—in bold—to try to catch her attention. The next e-mail I got from Jill used my real first name.

Even people from other cultures call me Sharon. Just today, Joey’s second cousin Jorge e-mailed me about a genealogical fan chart I had sent him. Here’s what he wrote near the end of the e-mail (I bet you can pick out my second name even if you don’t speak Spanish.):

“Como puedes ver Sharron esta familia Miranda se ha hecho bastante grande y estan por todas partes verdad?”

Remarkable, no? I especially like how Jorge used an alternate spelling that capitalizes on the Spanish rolled r.

What’s your second name?