Wednesday, May 1, 2013

3. Jenny Lorraine Candelaria...

...is what I wrote. I couldn't help myself. I had to try it to see what it looked like. Patrick and I had been engaged for several months now and, though I was thrilled to be marrying him, I didn't love his name. In June my name would be changing from Jenny Lorraine Browning to Jenny Lorraine Moores. I had never cared for any part of my name, so I was plenty happy to be changing it. But, I didn't like Moores very much either. I mean, what's with the "s"? Moore would be much better.

I stood at the dusty blue colored counter in our small kitchen, and practiced what would be my new signature over and over again on a blank sheet of paper. Well, it started out blank. Now it was covered in, what looked like, nothing more than a mess of scribbles going every which direction. Not only did I not care terribly for my name, but my signature was bad too. My handwriting in general was not nice. I always wished that I'd had that bubbly girl handwriting that girly girls seemed to have in school. Mine was way more like a boy's handwriting. For several years I'd written in all caps because doing so seemed to mute the unattractiveness of my penmanship. I was also particular about what I wrote with; always staying away from fine tips. The broader the point the better. I preferred pens and pencils that softened the appearance of my harsh writing.

I take it back. I did care for a part of my name, but not my first or last one. I liked Lorraine. I liked that I was named after my Dad's secretary. My Dad is a journeyman welder to this day. He and my Mom married the August after they each turned nineteen, and my Dad went to welding school. He is extremely attentive to detail which makes him perfect for the trade. A construction job would drive him nuts because working in small fractions of an inch is what he does best. He likes things to be perfect, and they need to be. All that said, I don't think that he likes welding. He was young, and needed a job. He'd gotten a scholarship to attend art school at A.S.U. while he was at Mesa High. The guy could draw. But, at nineteen, drawing certainly wouldn't pay the bills.

So, Lorraine was the secretary at Tractor Machining in Mesa. My Dad worked there from just before I was born, until we moved to Colorado when I was fourteen. She was older, and I'm not entirely sure why he named me after her except that he must have liked her, and the name, enough. I know that I liked her. Sometimes my Mom and I would stop by and take my Dad Gatorade. If there was an ulterior motive, like picking up a paycheck or something, it was of no interest to me. I was still in pigtails. My Mom would stay in the car, and I would get to get out to see my Dad. Knowing him like I do, I imagine that he then got to show me off a little too. Lorraine always had a dish of hard candy on her desk that I could help myself to. Those jelly filled strawberry candies wrapped in green and red cellophane were my favorite. The flavor couldn't be beat, but the gimmick wrapping and texture didn't hurt a thing either.

Jenny was a result of not being a Jennifer. My Dad went to grade school with a Jennifer that he apparently didn't like enough. She talked too much he said. My Mom wanted to use Jennifer. It was a very popular name in 1980. So, they compromised and named me Jenny. People have always assumed that Jenny was short for Jennifer, and I didn't dare correct them when I was little. I loved the name, and wished it was mine. The long "e" sound has always bothered me for some reason in Jenny. Or, maybe it's just that it ends in a "y". I always thought that I'd like my name better if it ended in an "ie". That just seems a little less homely and more unique for whatever reason. It's a fuzz less whiny and baby like; cuter. Yes, Jenn"ie" would make the whiney "e" sound acceptable, because then it would be cute. Not to mention, that I doubt my Dad's reasoning in not naming me Jennifer helped a thing. I seem to talk plenty, if not too much, anyway.

Then there's Browning. Jeez, need I say more? It's an ending issue, a-gain. I'd have been at piece with a simple Brown. But no, my name included an "ing". I've gotten a kick out of the bank ING ever since discovering them in my early twenties. I began using them to, sort of, pay tribute to my maiden name or something. Someone else obviously had an ending issue, or even better, thought highly of the ending. The bank provides great interest rates, so we will go with the latter. In any case, I wasn't keen on Browning as my last name and I never, ever, ever liked my signature while I was a Browning.

So, I was hard at work practicing the new one. It was worse. M. The M was hideous when I signed it, and followed by double o's... I might pass out at the memory. But I continued. R. Heaven help me, r's and my cursive simply don't get along. Then e-s. E was as good as it would get, and s was just an insult to injury.

I stood in brown socked feet with my elbow on the counter. My chin was propped up by my palm, and of the hand that held my pen. My lunchbox and red bag that I carried my phone book, maps and delivery notices in were still on the floor; leaning against the cabinets. I looked at the sheet of paper in front of me, and the countless attempts to polish my new signature. I sighed in defeat. Then I shifted my weight from my right hip, and stood up straight while placing both hands on the counter. The pen was still in my right hand. I found a blank spot and signed. Jenny-Lorraine-Candelaria. My stomach flipped as I did it and I stared down in astonishment. It was beautiful. Jenny, for once, looked pretty. Lorraine shone like a star, and Candelaria looked angelic. It was absolutely stunning. I flipped the piece of paper over and went to town! I signed, and signed, and signed! I covered the entire back side of the sheet of paper in Jenny Lorraine Candelaria. The signature was fluid and, for the first time in my life, easy. Once the realization of what I'd done dawned on me, I quickly tore the sheet of paper into as many tiny pieces as I could. I threw them in the kitchen trash being sure to shuffle all of it; to be certain that the pieces of torn paper would scatter and fall toward the bottom. Then I made my way to the shower. I always needed one after work.

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