Even as a child, I never liked nicknames. And yet my parents gave me one.
Betsy. Which I shrugged off at fourteen.
The ‘s’ in Elisabeth is an affectation I picked up at the same age, when I asked to be called by my middle name.
Somehow the ‘z’ looked too harsh to me, especially when combined with the ‘z’ in Hazel, my first name.
One simple letter change felt mysterious, felt sophisticated, felt French.
A snapshot of all my longings at fourteen.
And it stuck. I never returned to the ‘z’.
For most of my life, I didn’t like Hazel. I abbreviated it to H.
I still like the abbreviation, still use it when I sign my name.
I have made my peace with Hazel. Now, I appreciate being named after my two grandmothers.
And now, Hazel is apparently considered cute. Even popular.
In fifteen years, if I am still teaching, I may be teaching a room full of Hazels.
A couple of people I barely know have nicknamed me Liz, which I don’t appreciate.
It feels overly familiar and lazy to shorten the name of someone you barely know.
No one has ever called me Beth.
A couple of people I know very well call me Hazel. From them, it’s meant to be and sounds affectionate.
When I write to them, I sign my name Hazel.
I got the idea to write about names from Terje’s wonderful slice about her name.