Saturday, June 18, 2011

I am NOT Lauren... or Greasy.

When I was born, my parents named me Grace, wanting a name that doesn't come with annoying nicknames.  They must have overlooked "Gracie", which I think sounds too much like "Greasy".  It's like some kind of curse; the closer a person is to me, the more they search for a nickname, and the more I am called "Gracie".  It's not my fault that "Gracie" automatically sounds like "Greasy", but I frequently ask people not to call me that.

I have always been a tall, blond-haired, blue-eyed, relatively smart girl.  In 6th grade, the first year of middle school, there was another tall, blond-haired, blue-eyed, relatively smart girl, named Lauren Dee.  As the year went on, students and teachers alike frequently confused us and called us by the wrong names.

Lauren and I were in a lot of the same classes in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade, and for whatever reason, people could never get our names straight.  Up until the day of our 8th grade graduation, I was called "Lauren-or-uh-wait-sorry-Grace".  When I wasn't called that, I was "Gracie" (Greasy).

Let me give an example.  In 7th grade, the seating chart put my desk next to Mitchell Louis'.  One day, he asked to borrow a pencil and accidentally called me "Lauren".  I looked at him for a second, waiting for him to correct himself, but he smiled, and decided to call me Lauren for the next two years, as a sort of "inside joke".  I didn't think it was that funny.

Now, don't get me wrong, Lauren Dee is my good friend. But it is very annoying and a little disheartening to know some people for three years, and they can't discriminate you from someone who looks like you.

The summer after 8th grade, Lauren Dee went on to the local high school, while I chose to transfer to a different public high school.  The school I transferred to is much smaller than Lauren's school, with less than 100 students in my graduating class.  I was pretty excited about getting a fresh start, where no one would confuse me with Lauren.

I was tardy to first period on my first day of high school.  (Not a good way to kick off your high school career, I might add.)  There was a lot of traffic, and I wasn't the only one.  Actually, I was the next-to-last person to arrive to class.  The last was standing behind me, a tall, blond-haired, blue-eyed girl.  I was standing outside the door of my first class, where my teacher stood with a sign-in sheet.  The teacher looked at me, and this is how our brief dialogue went:

Me:  Hi, I'm really sorry I'm late, there was traffic, and my brothers, and my mom, and her coffee... (I stutter a little when I'm embarrassed talking to teachers)

Teacher:  Oh, no, it's fine, it's only the first day.  Now, let's see... (looking at sign-up sheet)  You must be... (looking at me)  Lauren?

Is this some kind of joke?

I turned to the girl behind me, then turned back to the teacher

Me:  Oh, no, I'm Grace!  Grace Kent.  I should be riiiiight (frantically searching for my name on sheet) THERE!

Teacher:  Oh, yes... thank you, Grace, was it?

Me:  Yes.  Grace.
Teacher:  Alright, then, go ahead and take a seat, Gracie.
It is a joke!

I went inside the classroom, looked around at the sea of faces I didn't know, and chose a seat near the door.  From my desk, I could hear the girl who was behind me sign in as "Lauren Fredrick".

I groaned.  I knew then that I would be spending the next four years with this tall, blond-haired, blue-eyed girl named Lauren.  It was happening again, I just knew it!

In this respect, the year turned out exactly like I thought it would.

Lauren Fredrick and I got very similar grades, and we are pretty good friends.

At infrequent times throughout this last year, I was called Lauren, I was called Gracie (Greasy), and Lauren was called Grace.  If she had a blog, she could write about this too.  Teachers and students often spoke too quickly and confused names.

Was it my parents' fault?  Destined to be tall, blond-haired, blue-eyed, and relatively smart, should I have been named Lauren?  Maybe.

Maybe it's just a part of my life that I'll have to get used to, like some people have to get used to having an identical twin.  If so, that's annoying.  But I'll get used to it, and I'll make it work.

When my school year ended, I realized that I made a very good decision in transferring to my high school.  In such a small school, I've gotten to know everyone in my grade, and I love them all.  Everyone at my school has a very strong personality, and I've come to learn that I do too.

I may be called Lauren for the rest of my life, but I am not Lauren.  I am not Gracie, or Greasy.  I am Grace Kent.  I am relatively smart.  I love books.  I can write.  I don't like tomatoes.  I can be funny.  I wear too much blue.  I am a good friend. 

I am Grace Kent.