Write about your first name: Are you named after someone or something? Are there any stories or associations attached to it? If you had the choice, would you rename yourself?
My name is Alexandra.
The story goes that when I was chilling in the womb, my mum was listening to the radio and heard something being mentioned about Queen Alexandra (a.k.a Queen Elizabeth II’s Great-grandmother.) So with that, and various old people doting over me and
lying telling me I was a Queen, I went around most of my young life believing so. I was clearly destined for great things.
2013 – Literally a conversation that just took place before writing this prompt:
“Hi Mummy, (yes I call her Mummy, not Mum), what was the story about my name again?”
“My name – you used to say you heard a report on the radio talking about Queen Alexandra and you decided that was the name for me?”
“Oh, oh no. I can’t remember…”
“You can’t remember? But you used to tell me all the time” – In hindsight I probably used to insist that she told me all the time.
*Mum frustrated* “I heard someone call-in to a radio show and request something, Alexandra was mentioned…I can’t remember”
So I don’t know if I was named after a caller requesting a song, or (this I prefer) a caller who had requested a song called Alexandra. I was hoping it was Leonard Cohen’s Alexandra Leaving, but that’s too recent.
Ah well. Be it royal or common it was from the radio nonetheless. If she hadn’t had heard it at the precise moment I had kicked her when the name was called out, she would have named me Natasha. I don’t look like a Natasha nor do I feel like I could carry the weight of propriety that Natasha holds; Alex, Alexandra, Al, Alexi, Sandy and even Zandra* however is more flexible.
With Alex, I can usually dupe people who don’t know me, have never met or heard me speak into thinking I’m a guy – then enjoy the looks on their faces or bemusement in their voice, when I surprise them with being a smart, competent young Black woman**.
I can shorten it to a non-offensive abbreviation like Al that is sometimes more preferable to everyone, allows me to claim that song by Paul Simon feat Chevy Chase – and doesn’t sound like a cruel joke – Nat for Natasha, Natalie? Hols for Hollie? Em for Emily or Emma – ew.
*one of my best friends insists on calling me this.
**Alex is more laid back than Alexandra, but if I have a TV or film credit coming up, I will insist on Alexandra – it reads better and is, in my opinion, beautiful.