What’s in a Name? (Part I)

name, love, relationshipFinally my son wanted his grandmother, my mom Marcia, to meet his “friend.”

“Hey, since Nanny is visiting you, want to bring her to meet Shara and me for dinner?” was how he put it.

Most of us in the family had not yet met Shara, who had been named by us over the past months as “the girlfriend-we-are-not-allowed-to-call-his-girlfriend.”

The reasons for the nomenclature were complicated: she didn’t want to commit after a previous unsuccessful relationship; he didn’t want her to think he wanted to commit; she was worried he didn’t want to commit so she was adamant about not committing.

In other words, a typical 20-something relationship.

Mom, always excited to be with her well-loved grandson, was thrilled that she, “the grandmother,” would get to meet Shara, “the secret girlfriend.”

“It’s a sign,” my mom sighed dreamily. I just shook my head.

“No,” I answered, “Sean sees a chance for a free dinner for him and his date.”

We met, tired and a bit out of sorts, at a restaurant halfway between my suburban home and Sean’s tiny hip city loft. The starless sky wore as blank an expression as the uninterested waitress, who seated the four of us at a table for six.

Within three minutes my mom demanded that we be moved to a smaller booth.

“More cozy,” she said. I’d never seen this romantic side in her before.

Sean ordered the Chianti, and Shara sat demurely quiet. I knew she was extremely intelligent, but she looked like Ali McGraw in Love Story: long slender black coat that covered tight jeans and a soft curvy cashmereAlly McGraw, hat, love story pink top, long blonde hair capped with a jaunty flat hat, the kind that only really cute, really slim women can wear. It took her 10 minutes and a glass of wine to lose the coat and hat. It took my mom 10 more minutes to loosen her up.

“So, Shannon, what do you do?” Marcia asked.

Shara looked up at Sean as if he was to answer, so he did. “She’s an investment analyst for a competitor of my company.”

Shara jumped in, explaining a bit about her position, but only Sean understood her world in high finances. We Wight women believe in words, not numbers.

Somehow the conversation turned to words, and their importance. My mom told a story about a friend calling her by the wrong name, pronouncing it Marsha instead of Marceea. “Maybe it’s spelled the same,” she said, sipping her second glass of wine, “but it’s totally different. Do I look like a Marsha? No. I’m a Marcie, or a Marcia, never a Marsha.”

We ate our pasta, our shrimp, our salads, and drank our Chianti. The conversation relaxed, the laughs got louder, the restaurant suddenly glowed in a golden light, and Marcia continued to try to draw out Sean’s girlfriend, ur, friend.

“Cher, where does your dad live? Near here?” Mom asked after hearing Shara talk affectionately about her father.

Shara looked at Sean. I think she kicked him under the table. Sean cleared his throat. “Uh, Nanny. Shara’s name is Shara. Not Shannon or Cher or Sherry. Shara.”

Silence suddenly permeated the table.

Mom looked stupefied. “Oh, well, how do I remember that? Shar? Shar A? I don’t know if I’ll get it right. Okay if I just remember Char? That sounds close to Cher, so I should be able to do that.”

Shara smiled sweetly at my mom. “I don’t mind at all….. Marsha.”

Silence for one sparkling second, and then the table burst into cheers, my mom’s the loudest.

A week later Sean called me on the phone for no particular reason, until I asked how his friend, Shara, was. “Well, uh, it’s okay. You can call her my girlfriend,” he responded.

I could feel his deep pink blush over the phone lines.

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

(Shakespeare)

28 thoughts on “What’s in a Name? (Part I)

  1. What a cute story, Pam. I know how glad you are to have “Cher” in the family – looks like she can hold her own with Marsha.

  2. Hi,
    Loved the story. Isn’t it funny how these sort of meetings can be awkward at first, but it sounds like everyone had a good time in spite of it. 🙂

  3. LOL. I love this post! Your son must have been very nervous introducing his girlfriend for the first time to you and his grandmother! Shara sounds like a very brave girl!

    • My son comes off as a strong stoic type, but underneath that he’s a sweetie who, yes, was very nervous. And Shara is sweet and smooth on the outside, and VERY strong on the inside. Good match. :+)

    • Cute, and every word is true. Isn’t it fun, realizing that reality creates fascinating stories? I love total imagination though, too, but save that for my novels. Thanks for the comment, as always. Added you to my blogroll. (redid this – want to make sure you got it!)

  4. This is a gem of a story–reads like the best fiction because of the suggestive subtlety of your dialog and descriptions. Besides, I think I may be in love with Sean–who had sense enough to make the right deductions after the wonderful torture of that meal. And Shara: imagine carrying off that last line! Gotta love her!

    • Thank you! I just wrote back on your blog. Fun that we both thought of writing about ‘what’s in a name,’ yes? And yes, Sean is easy to love, he’s very considerate of his lovely Shara, for sure.

  5. What a great story! Nothing like a little spontaneous wit and humor to smooth out the awkward moments in life…

    Speaking of names, my grandmother had a friend, I think her first name may have been Virginia, but her last name was Wight, like yours. She was a painter and I have one of her paintings hanging above my desk. It’s simply signed with her surname… Wondering if there is any connection?

    • Wit and humor – a NECESSITY in keeping families together! :+)

      Well, Virginia Woolf is a distant relative of mine (her husband, Leonard, was my great great uncle), and my dad’s family are all Wight’s. No painters that I know of, although my grandmother, Harriet Wight, did dabble in the watercolor here and there. I LOVE that you have a Wight painting above your desk, whichever Wight family she belongs to.

  6. What a cute story! Glad it seemed to ‘break the ice’ with regards to Sean’s friend/girlfriend status.

    What’s in a name? I have two girlfriends whose children have very particular pronunciations and they will also pounce on anyone who gets them wrong. One friend’s son is Benjamin, but pronounced the Hebrew way: Been-ya-meen. My other friend’s daughter is Alicia – pronounced Ah-lee-see-a, not Alisha, very similar to the Marsha/Marceea issue. 🙂

    • Yes, Yes, and when we’re with these friends, we darn well better get the pronounciation right!

      Similarly, my sister-in-law named her sons Timothy and Christopher, and we get the evil eye if we call them Tim or Chris. I guess something could be said for those old-time names of Jack and Jill. :+)

    • Oh that’s great! And yes, it was exactly like that, slowly unfolding as the family members (and Shara) slowly unfolded their personalities and treated each other as friends, not strangers.

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