I’ve introduced myself to you many times as Liz. Man Hands Lizzie is based on that monicker.
BUT — you may as well know it — I am mostly called by another name. One which will be revealed to you in the cartoon below.
I haven’t been misrepresenting myself to you. I am called Liza by family. Pronounced “lee-za” and often spelled incorrectly with an “s” by some people, it’s my second name. I am called Alma by everybody else. I’ve been christened other names by friends, students, and co-workers; but these are the two I’ve been called the longest. Alma is my “public” name; Liza is “private”.
My mother told me that the characters my names bring me oppose each other.
Alma is an extrovert. Liza is an introvert.
Alma is open. Liza has many secrets.
Alma is adventurous. Liza would rather stay home and read.
I was supposed to have a different second name, she said. Something like “Bella”, which means ‘beautiful’. But she changed it at the last minute because she checked the astrology and numerology charts and realized the character it would bring me wouldn’t suit me. She’s not a die-hard believer in those things and just happened upon a couple of articles from magazines. Still, I find this tale to be very telling and believe that fate had it that I receive two conflicting names. And I find that, yes, I am all of these things.
I used to hate my public name. There was a famous actress who had the same name when I was growing up. Her intelligence, or lack thereof, had been fodder to many jokes about stupidity. I can’t tell you how often people made
lame quips connecting my name with hers. It used to irritate the hell out of me and I’d instantly dislike whoever joked about it.
Alma means “soul” in Spanish. I came to love this name because of its meaning. Liza is short for “Elizabeth” and means “consecrated to God”. I connect this name to the sound of my parents voices. Even now, with my father gone and my mother thousands of miles away, I can close my eyes and hear them speak my second name and feel utterly LOVED.
So, hello! My name is Alma. Or Liza. Or Liz. Or Lizzie. And if you know me by any other name, then feel free to keep calling me that, too. All of my names have, in their way, defined and shaped me. Just as much as the people who utter them to address me have.