What’s in a Name?

I spent most of the first decade of my life living in “The Me Decade”, otherwise known as the 1970s. I spent much of that decade parked in front of our black & white television watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Welcome Back Kotter, One Day at a Time, Happy Days and The Carol Burnett Show – the greatest televised variety show ever made.

Appearing as one of Carol Burnett’s costars was the ever-talented Vicki Lawrence. For several years I had the idea that our family was related to Vicki Lawrence and that Mom had named me after this famous relative who just so happened to never have been mentioned at family gatherings. She was the only other Vicki I knew of, with the exception of a little girl at church who was at least two years younger than I.

So Vicki Lawrence was my secret aunt who nobody ever talked about. I just knew that one day I would get a letter from my famous aunt requesting that I spend a week with her. That’s when I would meet Carol Burnett, Tim Conway and Harvey Korman. I would become famous as Vicki Lawrence’s niece and she would be proud to introduce me to all her celebrity friends.

I sort of outgrew this fantasy after Vicki Lawrence never bothered to contact me, but I still secretly hoped that I was her namesake. So at the age of eleven I finally worked up the nerve to ask Mom how I became Vicki, knowing that my fantasy might be destroyed.

The story wasn’t nearly as exciting as the one I had imagined.

At some point during the nine months Mom was carrying me she flipped through a book of baby names. In case I turned out to be a girl, Mom picked out the names Vicki Lynn and Susan Lynn. She settled on Vicki Lynn because the baby book said that Vicki – short for Victoria – meant victorious. She decided against Victoria, however, fearing that I might be slow and would have difficulty learning to spell my name.

Mom interpreted Lynn from the following logic: Eve was the first woman and her name is found in the name Evelyn. Eve + Lynn = first woman, therefore Lynn must mean woman.

I think Mom must have either had a defective book of baby names or she decided that Lynn meant woman through her own train of logic because I’ve never found it defined in this manner. But the point is that Mom intended my name to mean victorious woman.

I think what happened is Mom took one look at me after I was born and decided I would need to be victorious because I was never going to be a Susan – a graceful lily.

When Mom told me the story of how I was named she also threw in this little anecdote: Grandma waited until I was 5-years-old to tell Mom that she had never liked my name and had been disappointed with Mom’s choice. Apparently to Grandma the name Vicki was the verbal equivalent to fingernails on a chalk board.

There’s no way of knowing whether Mom doomed me to be unfeminine, awkward and klutzy by choosing Vicki over Susan. Nor is there any way to know if I wouldn’t have been so slow and clueless if she had chosen Victoria over Vicki.

The only thing I do know for sure is that I have never received that letter from Aunt Vicki Lawrence. Perhaps they forgot to send her a baby announcement after I was born.