The other day I received a request on Facebook to add myself as a friend. This perplexed me at first as I didn't recall inviting myself to do anything. Immediately fearing the worst, I began to wonder if I had perhaps suffered a blackout. Maybe I was turning into that guy from Memento. If I'm going to turn into Guy Pearce, I would rather turn into the Guy Pearce of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. At least there he got to ride atop a fabulous, giant stiletto and lip synch opera while wearing silver lamé. But I digress . . .
Upon closer inspection, I realized it was not me, Martina D. "Powellhurst" of Portland but a teenaged Martina E. "Powellhurst" of Nova Scotia inviting me to be her friend. (Sanity - 1, Crazytown - 0...at least for now!) She surprises me, this me 2.0. My name (neither first nor last) is not that common, so what are the chances of someone else with my last name thinking to name their daughter Martina? In another odd twist, the "E." in the other Martina's name stands for Elizabeth, an anglicized version of my maternal grandmother's name. Crazy, huh?
Though it's actually Latin derived (there is a Saint Martina who even has a church named for her in Rome), my name was chosen because it was common in Germany (and thereby easy for my grandparents to say), but not too foreign for Americans to pronounce correctly (or as my mother so charmingly puts it, "It's not weird enough for Americans to mess up").
In Germany, Martina is a pretty common name, but once we moved back to the states, I was always the only one. Sure, there has been the odd tennis player or country singer, but they are few and far between. Even if there was a period in the 80's where I was the victim of a lot of very uncreative lesbian tennis jokes (seriously, people, did you really all think it was the first time I'd heard it?), I've always liked my name - so much so that I informed my first grade teacher one day that I would no longer be answering to "Tina", thank you very much. My dwindling family and 2-year old friend, Antonio, still call me Tina and there was one boy in High School (the only person ever got away with it) who insisted on calling me Marty, but most people know me by my full first name. My middle name is that of the Roman Goddess of the hunt. I have no idea why my parents chose it. I suppose I should ask one day, but I suspect that it is because it sounded good with Martina. It has a nice rhythm, Martina Diana "Powellhurst". It rolls off the tongue like I've known it all my life.
The truth is that that I like having a not so common name. It makes me feel unique, which has always seemed preferable to me. I've always hated doing things just because other people were doing them. I've always embraced those things that make me different. But, of course, now I know that I'm not so different after all. There is another one of us. Still, I like our name. It is one of an increasing number of things that I wouldn't change about myself - unless perhaps I married someone whose last name was just too fabulous to resist, but it would really have to be good. If it were something like Huepfengrueber, well, then just forget it! I am happy just being me!