There is Something about Mary in the Deep South: My Alternate Persona
My mom’s favorite holiday was April Fool’s Day. She loved to pull pranks and she would go all out on the first of April every year. She would take rotten steak and place under the couch or she would pretend to have huge news such as pregnancy. Although we knew she loved to prank us on that day, we still tended to fall for her gags. Besides April Fool’s Day, she loved to do low-hanging pranks throughout the year. I never go, in the moment, why she loved pranking so much. Now I think back to those times and realize she would have been an excellent producer for Ashton Kutcher’s Punk’d show. Pranking brought her great joy in a dismal world. A sense of humor is what oftentimes can carry a person through the life-challenging moments that come day in and day out. She needed an outlet. She encouraged me to be creative and engage in storytelling contests. Her creativity came in the form of helping other people laugh.
Part of her pranking gags included going by a different name. My mom’s given name was Carmen. She hated that name, however. She didn’t hate it enough to officially change her name and most definitely she would never change it to something as wacky as “sexy” the way a woman recently did. If given a choice she would be hard-pressed to choose between Lydia and the “Puerto Rican cowgirl”. She often would go by Lydia whenever she introduced herself to people which oftentimes led to funny telephone encounters when people called asking for Lydia. She loved putting on the Lydia persona. It was the care-free persona that was the singing, dancing sassy lady. Historically, there was a place called Lydia which was in the kingdom of western Asia Minor and the Lydians were the first people to use gold and silver coin and the first to establish retail shops in permanent locations. There is a grand and majestic history to “Lydias.” Furthermore in the bible Lydia of Thyatira, was a woman and deaconess in the New Testament’s Acts of the Apostles who sold purple clothing. That love of purple is in my genes. It was, thus, befitting that Lydia was my mother’s disguise throughout her life.
I have never really liked my given name either. However, I have never gone by my nickname of Mimi until I started developing an online persona. I just have labored through life with my name. I have no Hispanic accent to speak of. Nor do I have a New York accent. However, whenever I am talking to someone on the phone that I have not met, once I say my name, they claim to not be able to understand me. This is something that unfortunately happens quite often. When I lived in Atlanta for a few months, whenever I went somewhere in which I had to leave my name, it became a tortuous event. At Starbucks, Panera, Moes and so on, I became Mary. Whenever I gave my name for a coffee drink, it came back to me with the name Mary no matter how many times I spelled out my name.
At one point I became extremely frustrated. I took a deep breath and remembered my mother. She would have embraced the lack of name recognition or comprehension and would have come up with a new name. Therein my Mary persona was born with a little bit of a Southern Twang.
My Mary disguise was bubbly and had a spring in her step. She greeted everyone with a hello and a question about how their day was going. Mary’s name was never misspelled. Mary’s name was yelled out loudly and confidently in the restaurants. There was no hesitation when my coffee was handed out to me. Mary was easy to understand and easy to get along with. I left my New Yorker misgivings behind. I left my New Yorker dark humor to the side. Bright and bubbly! Bright and bubbly was how my mom was when she was Lydia. Bright and bubbly was how I was perceived when I was Mary.
I lived in Atlanta ten years ago. Till this day I am Mary about 20 days out of the year as I travel often to the South.
This morning Mary got a Venti skinny vanilla latte. Tomorrow, my non-Mary persona will get a passionfruit mojito.
Inspired by daily prompt of brilliant disguise
Other thoughts on the daily prompt