My Fake-Coffee Half Hour


It’s funny how a person’s perception of what is good changes with the circumstances. I used to look forward to my can of Diet Coke every day until I reached my mid-forties. Then the stuff became too hard on my stomach, and I gave it up.

I used to look forward to my cup of real coffee every day, until I developed GERD and had to give it up.

I used to look forward to my glass of white wine a few times a week until it caused me to regurgitate so much stomach acid that I couldn’t breathe and had to give it up.

Now I look forward to my fake cup of coffee that I drink every day at midday because I have to dissolve my gentle laxative in it (TMI, I know, but had to explain why I still drink it).

During my half hour of sipping time, I am in a chair and multi-tasking. I can be scrolling through the time-suck called Facebook. I can be composing a story for children that will hopefully make its way into a book, or like today, I can be dreaming up another blog topic.

Blog posts 365 days a year – that’s a lot of writing. An older friend/acquaintance said to me last week at a party, “Who reads that garbage, anyway?”

He later apologized when he realized that I write the garbage to which he was referring.

Today’s garbage is a reflection on first names. Do you like yours? Or not? Have you always liked/hated it?

My name is Susan, and I liked it fine until 8th grade Spanish class where we each had to take on a Spanish first name. I would have loved Susana, but the first Susan, alphabetically speaking, got to take that one. The second Susan, alphabetically speaking, got Elisa, as it was bestowed upon her by Señor Bretos, our Cuban teacher.

The third Susan got Catalina, still not bad. The fourth Susan got Juanita, not my favorite but still do-able. I was Susan Middleton, the fifth and alphabetically-last Susan in this particular class.

Señor Bretos named me Hortensia.

Hortensia means Hortense, which sounds like horse, and also like tense. Forget about those. It also sounds like whore.

I was miserable during 8th grade Spanish class every time Señor Bretos rolled his rrr’s and called on Hortensia (ohrrrrrr TEHN syah),

I was too embarrassed to respond. I didn’t want to be compared to a horse, a tense person, or least of all, a whore.

Say it with me, folks. ¡Hortensia!

Flash forward twenty–some years.  When I named my baby daughters, I gave them such uncommon names that they hated me until they reached adulthood. My son was given a common name. In his 4th/5th grade split class when he was ten, there were four Nicks and one Nicki. He was Nick E., so it was confusing.

Which is worse? Being one of five? Or having such an unusual name that not only are you the only one in your class with that name, you are also the only one in the entire school with that name?

I might have gone a bit overboard with the girls’ names.

I think everyone is happy with their given names now, as adults. But those first twenty or so years were tough ones.

If you don’t believe me, just ask Hortensia!

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