Bay Reflection
What's in a Name? Will the real writer please stand up?
by M.L. Faunce

I've known a "K.C." and a "K.W." - also called "Kdub" - and recently came to know a "T.C." A librarian friend of mine always uses "I.M.," explaining that "letters signed with initials are taken more seriously." And this a woman who has lived in the Alaska bush all her life.

Introduced to someone I was soon to work with, the gentlemen commented, "I've never called anyone by their initials." Of course, what he meant to say is "I've never called a woman by her initials."

So when a friend recently reported overhearing a cadre of back-seat commuters on the Keller Bus talking about New Bay Times writer M.L. Faunce, I was more than interested. As the bus barreled between D.C. and Anne Arundel and Calvert counties, the quartet had decided that M.L. is a man and the name a pseudonym.

My mother once said, "I gave you a perfectly pretty name," and now everyone calls you M.L. Actually, I've been called quite a few things in my life, though it's not as bad as it sounds. We've all had our share of nicknames, some we give ourselves, a few the source of embarrassment. My cousin Carolyn was called "Termite" when we were growing up. That tag seems misplaced now, for this poised professional, mother, grandmother and world traveler. Still, the name crops up now and then. When I see others wince at the word "termite" I can't help but smile.

I went through my own list of handles, changing my name from Mary Louise to Louie when I reckoned myself a serious ballplayer at the age of 10. Maybe I just saw the name on a bat. I remember my father crooning a sweet "Mary Lou, I love you," when I helped him with chores. And when the time came for my Confirmation, I ruffled several nuns' feathers by choosing my same name. After all, I already had two, and they were "perfectly pretty." Later I hyphenated my given names in some pretense of sophistication, and later still during my Francophile years I christened myself Marie Louise.

And I did spend time in that Gallic republic, which reminds me of a phone call from my brother on a recent birthday asking if Mom had ever told me about the day I was born.

"Well, I remember she said I was a breach birth (ouch!)," as if that explained some things. And that when the nurse brought me to her for the first time, she said, "that's not my baby." We've all heard about switched at birth these days. It probably happened more then. Anyway, she insisted that wasn't her baby. Our family doctor, who'd seen two, agreed. "That is not a Faunce baby," he declared with authority. A beaded bracelet on my wrist supported their argument. The other baby's bracelet read "France," a name that I would mistakenly be called throughout my life.

Using my initials really began with a group of engineers I knew when I worked for NASA. They dubbed me 'multilateral force' or MLF. The initials stuck. Today, a word-thrifty niece calls me Aunt Mouise. A young nephew reinvents me yet again, pronouncing me the accented DaWeese. I accept the name change with affectionate hugs.

Still, many call me by my initials. I'm not a man, and it's not a pseudonym. But you can call me anything - as long as you don't call me Ms. France.

M.L. Faunce writes under still another name in this week's Dock of the Bay.

| Issue 40 |

Volume VII Number 40
October 7-13, 1999
New Bay Times

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